Albus Dumbledore rubbed his eyes wearily. He didn't even know why he was really here. He doubted there was anything the woman in front of him could say that would make him change his mind. He had already decided that it was not worthwhile to continue the subject of Divination at Hogwarts. Very few people possessed true sight, and it was not a subject that could be taught. You either had it or you did not. Still, it was only polite that he meet with her. She was, after all, descended from one of the most celebrated seers of all time. He had told her as politely as he could manage that he did not think he would require her services and turned to leave.
He never made it to the door.
"the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…"
Albus turned slowly to face the woman who was speaking in a harsh voice. He did not hear the noise of a scuffle in the hallway behind him.
"and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not…, and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…."
Albus simply stared at the figure before him, his mind furiously racing. Were they really about to find the one who had the power to finally defeat Voldemort? After a short pause she began again.
"And his power will be hidden from the world, none to know of it until the beginning of the end…. He will be lead to greatness by one whose love for him is old and strong… The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… with his guide he will prevail, without he will fall lower than any before him have gone… The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…."
Albus took a long time to walk back to his office that night. He had much to think about. The fact that Severus Snape had heard the first portion of the prophecy was troubling, as he would undoubtedly tell Voldemort what he had heard. But at least he had not heard the rest. Albus searched through his memory for those who fit the qualifications of having defied the Voldemort three times. There were several who had done this, but only two couples were currently expecting a baby to be born later in the summer. He would have to talk to them immediately. They would have to be protected.
As Albus sent Fawkes with a note to the Longbottoms and Potters he continued in his thoughts. The second part of the prophecy intrigued him. He knew that he would have to lodge a recording of the prophecy with the Department of Mysteries eventually, but he was strongly inclined to leave the second part out. Indeed, it seemed that the prophecy was telling him to do so with that clause about a hidden power. He wished he had more information about this guide.
Maybe there was a reason that he was the one the prophecy was given to. Maybe he was destined to be the young hero's guide.
It had been two weeks since Voldemort's defeat at the hands of little Harry Potter, and Albus had been run ragged ever since. He was grateful to have gotten to Harry before the Ministry did. He was not sure they would have listened to him about how placing the boy with the Dursleys was the best option. But then, they did not have the information he had. The first part of the prophecy had been fulfilled. Voldemort had marked Harry. But Albus knew he would be back. Hopefully, they would have many years to prepare. Albus had dutifully lodged a copy of the prophecy with the Ministry, but only the first half. No one now alive knew there was more. He had only told the Potters and the Longbottoms. He was positive that James and Lily had told no one, a fortunate thing given the betrayal by Sirius Black, and Frank and Alice no longer had the ability to tell anyone what they knew. They would be at St. Mungo's for a very long time. Albus was glad there was a silver lining to their unfortunate circumstances.
Albus knew the horrors that he had committed young Harry Potter to by leaving him with his aunt. But there was no choice. Albus was wary of the warning given by the prophecy. He wanted to prevent Harry from turning to the dark side, and placing him with his aunt would insure that the boy would not grow up to have a big head, among other things. Albus had thought long and hard about the second half of the prophecy, and he was convinced that he himself would be Harry's guide. After all, he was the only one who now knew about this power, and thus it could remain hidden. Also, he was well placed to guide Harry and help him remain in the light. Even more importantly, the prophecy said that Harry's guide would love him, and that the love for him would be old and strong. By placing Harry with his aunt, Albus had practically guaranteed that the only one who would love him from a young age would be Albus himself. And he did love the boy. He would have to insure that no other could fulfill the conditions, as he would trust this task to no one but himself.
Albus was pleased with Harry's progress. The boy had only been back in the wizarding world for two years and already he had faced and defeated Voldemort twice more. But Albus was a little concerned about young Miss Weasley, as he had seen Harry, just that morning, talking kindly to her. The girl was dangerous, as she was quite taken with Harry and Harry had already shown that he was inclined to help her. Albus didn't want Harry to develop feelings for the girl he had saved last year. It would ruin all his careful plans. Albus looked out on the student in the great hall. Perhaps the best idea would be to redirect young Harry's attention. He needed to prevent the boy from becoming romantically entangled with anyone. Not only would it jeopardize Albus' role as the guide, but it would prove a distraction that Harry could not afford. Perhaps it was more that he needed to divert Harry's romantic intentions to someone else, someone who was safer.
His eyes landed on the Ravenclaw table. Yes, she would do nicely. Her temperament would never allow her to really get close enough to Harry to touch his heart. Albus would have Severus prepare the potion immediately.
Albus was almost relieved to hear of Sirius' death. The man was getting too close to Harry and was standing in the way of Harry's destiny. Albus needed the ability to guide Harry without anyone else getting in the way. But he quickly pushed these thoughts aside. It was time that he tell Harry of the prophecy. It was time for Harry to learn of his destiny. He did not imagine that this was going to go over very well. Harry had quite a temper on him.
A/N: Some of the text in this chapter comes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. No infringement was intended. This is not my story and I intend no monetary gain based on it. So forth and so on.
I decided I wanted to write a super powered Harry story. Sorry that this is a little short, I just needed to set the stage. This is not going to be a Dumbledore friendly fiction. I hope you enjoy, and let me know your thoughts.
Harry watched in morbid fascination as Sybill Trelawney spoke in harsh tones.
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…."
"Professor Dumbledore? It… did that mean… What did that mean?"
"It means, that the person who has the only chance of conquering Lord Voldemort for good was born at the end of July, nearly sixteen years ago. This boy would be born to parents who had already defied Voldemort three times."
Harry's heart fell. He did not have the power to defeat Voldemort. It should have been someone else. Anyone else. There was no way he could do this, despite what Dumbledore was telling him.
Harry was wandering through the corridors the next day, deep in thought. He couldn't get the words of the prophecy out of his head. It seemed ridiculous to him. And it didn't make sense for there even to have been a prophecy, given that both sides heard about it. It would have made much more sense if only one side had heard so they could do something about it. He knew that Voldemort only knew the first half, but there really wasn't anything of import in the rest. Nothing that could make any difference, at least. Saying that Harry had a power didn't do much good if he didn't know what it was or how to access it. He tried to recall what it was Dumbledore had said about this power he supposedly had.
"There is a room in the Department of Mysteries that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there. It is the power held within that room that you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all. That power took you to save Sirius tonight. That power also saved you from possession by Voldemort, because he could not bear to reside in a body so full of the force he detests. In the end, it mattered not that you could not close your mind. It was your heart that saved you."
This, again, did not make sense to him. He remembered the horrible agony of being possessed by Voldemort. Sure, it was the thought of Sirius that had precipitated Voldemort leaving him alone, but Harry did not think it was because of love. He had thought of Sirius, how even if he died he would see him again, and he was filled with a profound sense of relief and acceptance. And he had no longer cared if he lived or died. Indeed, death seemed preferable. And then Voldemort was gone.
And although this made no sense to Harry, he was pretty sure it didn't happen as Dumbledore thought. He didn't recall being filled with a profound sense of love.
Dumbledore. Harry was still livid at him. He may have apologized for keeping him in the dark, but an apology would not bring Sirius back. An apology would not return the only family he had ever known. An apology would not restore Harry's faith and trust in the Headmaster. As Harry saw it, Dumbledore had made a lot of mistakes, and Harry had had to pay for most of them. Dumbledore had given an excuse and begged forgiveness, but it did not seem enough to Harry. He claimed that he loved Harry too much to put him in pain.
Harry scoffed at this. If Dumbledore really loved him so much he would not have left him with the Dursleys. If he really loved him so much he would not have let Sirius die last night, the only family Harry had. If he loved Harry so much he would long ago have begun teaching him how to fight, so that when it came time for Harry to stand against Voldemort he might actually have a chance of making it out alive.
In Harry's opinion it seemed a little suspicious that Dumbledore had made such a big deal about love twice last night. That it was love that was his power, and that it was love that caused Dumbledore to act as he had. It was almost as if the Headmaster was trying to impress upon Harry how much he loved him, and how he loved him more than anyone else possibly could.
But if Dumbledore really did love him he would not have hurt him so much.
"Love shouldn't harm the recipient," Harry whispered under his breath.
"I agree," came a quiet voice behind him.
Harry whipped around to see the smiling face of Ginny Weasley.
"Or, at least, love shouldn't do any permanent damage. After all, I'm sure the twins love their family and they…"
"…have a habit of pranking those they claim to love," he finished for her.
"Precisely." She smiled at him. "So what brings you to be brooding here by yourself?"
"Just thinking. Wishing it wasn't almost summer break." This wasn't precisely true, but Harry had no intention of telling her the truth right now. This was his burden to bear.
"You are the oddest person I know, Harry Potter. Most people are quite looking forward to the break."
"Guess I'm not most people." Harry sank dejectedly to the ground and sat with his back against the wall. No, indeed he was not most people. He was a marked man. A man destined to either be murdered or murderer. And from where Harry was sitting it was looking like the former was the only possibility. There was no way he could fight Voldemort and expect to win. He was hopeless.
"No," she looked down at him, "I'd have to say you're not." She could clearly see that there was more going on than he was saying, but chose to ignore it. "Any particular reason you're dreading going home."
"I don't want to go back to the Dursleys." This was true enough. "I don't want to spend another summer stuck there with no way of going anywhere, doing anything, or learning what is going on." And he didn't want to be guarded once more like the weapon he was. He wanted some control over his own life. But he couldn't very well tell her that.
Ginny sat down next to him and looked out in front of her for several long minutes. Her eyes were glazed over as if she was in deep thought.
"So we just have to think of a way around those things."
"I don't think that's possible, Gin."
"What did I tell you about thinking things are impossible, Harry?"
"That anything is possible if you've got enough nerve." He remembered when she had said this to him. And then she had found a way for him to talk to Sirius. He wished it was that easy this time. He needed to learn how to survive and he doubted very much she could guide him this time as easily as she had the last.
"Precisely," she continued, impervious to his inner skepticism. "Now, I think your problems come down to three things. First, you can't get anywhere. Second, you need a way to communicate that no one can intercept. And third, you need a way to practice and perform magic. That sound about right?"
"Yeah. But come on, Gin. There's no way I'll be able to get around all that."
"Oh, I don't know. I was thinking the other day, while Hermione was ranting to me about SPEW," both teenagers shivered in distaste. Neither was enthusiastic about Hermione's crusade to free the house elves from their preferred way of life. "I think I can solve at least the first two problems, and there might be a way to do something about the third, though I wouldn't get my hopes up about that one."
"You are going to bond Dobby as your house elf."
"Are you insane? Hermione would kill me."
"So then don't tell her. Or make a deal that you pay him, or something."
"So why would I want to have a house elf?"
"Well, as long as no one knew about him, I think he could help you out a lot. He could provide food and companionship at the Dursleys." This alone was almost enough to convince Harry, and he wondered why he hadn't thought of it before. "Also, house elf magic is different than ours, so he can apparate through wards." This was true. As Dobby had had no trouble coming and seeing him at Privet Drive. "Which means he should be able to take you with him. Or go to someone, such as myself, who can relay messages to you." Harry stared at her.
"Why thank you, Harry." She buffed her nails against her shirt and smiled cheekily at him.
"You mentioned something about using magic."
"Well, yes. That's going to be a little harder. I heard Bill talk once about the theory behind wandless magic use. I'm fairly sure it is supremely difficult and that most people can't do it. But it is worth a shot. I'm sure Dobby can go buy you some books about it."
"You mean there is an actual theory behind wandless magic?" Harry had always just assumed that those who could do magic without a wand were really powerful; powerful enough that they didn't need one. And he didn't include himself in this category.
"Of course. But like I said, not many people can do it."
Harry had a memory of last summer jump into his mind. He had frantically been looking for his wand, and it had lit without him touching it. And come to think of it, the Ministry had only detected his Patronus charm, not the Lumos he had cast first. Which means they must not have been able to detect it. Maybe there was something to this wandless thing.
"Well, it is certainly worth checking out."
"My thought exactly." She stood up and pulled him along with her, her small hand wrapped around his wrist as she dragged him behind her. "Now let's go find Dobby. I'm sure he'll be thrilled."
Harry privately agreed with her. Dobby was going to be bouncing off the walls with excitement. But it was still a brilliant idea that Ginny had had. Dobby would be able to help him a lot this summer. Once again, Harry was pleasantly surprised by Ginny Weasley. She was very different than he thought she was. She was not afraid to fight, as yesterday's adventure in the Department of Mysteries proved, and she was not afraid to put him in his place, as she had shown the previous Christmas. But most importantly she seemed to have an uncanny ability to pull him out of his brooding.
Harry was shocked to realize that they had already reached the large painting of fruit. Ginny had barely opened the door when a small missile came and attached itself to his legs.
"Harry Potter, Sir! You has come to visit Dobby! It is wonderful to see you, Harry Potter!"
"Hi, Dobby. How are you today?"
"Dobby is wonderful, sir. What can Dobby do for you and your Miss Wheazy today?"
"I have a request of you, Dobby."
"Anything, Harry Potter."
"How would you like to come and work for me?"
Dobby's eyes grew huge as he stared at Harry in awe. "Dobby work for Harry Potter, sir? Harry Potter wants Dobby to be his elf?"
"Yes, Dobby, I do. Would you like that?"
"Yes, sir! Dobby would like nothing more!"
"That's wonderful! Thanks Dobby."
"There are certain conditions we need you to agree to, Dobby," Ginny began. Dobby's eyes moved to look at her. "You can't tell anyone that you are Harry's elf now. During the school year you will still work here at Hogwarts, unless Harry needs something. But during the summer you would accompany him home and take care of him, without letting anyone else know. Can you do that, Dobby?"
"Of course, Miss Wheazy. Dobby will let no one else know that he works for Harry Potter. And Dobby will take care of Harry Potter, sir."
"That's wonderful, Dobby!" Ginny was beaming at him. "Now what do we need to do to make this official?"
"It is like this, Miss…"
Hermione hugged him one more time. "Are you sure you're going to be okay, Harry?"
"I'll be fine, Hermione. Mad-Eye has the Dursleys scared to death of hurting me. And I promise to write at least every couple of days. Wouldn't want Moony to have to come through on his promise to check on me. I don't think the Dursleys could handle having a werewolf in their house."
"Do you promise to write me if you need someone to talk to? If you need to talk to someone about Sirius?" Harry visibly flinched.
"I'll be fine, Hermione. I'll talk to someone if I need to. Don't worry about me."
Hermione hugged him, again, and Harry awkwardly patted her on the back. He looked over her shoulder to see Ginny laughing at him. He grimaced at her. She could have helped him out. He didn't have the best track record with hysterical females. Indeed, he had spent the last several weeks studiously avoiding Cho every time he saw her. Ginny had been invaluable in this endeavor. Why couldn't she help him out with Hermione?
"Boy! Let's go! We don't have all day to hang out here."
"Coming, Uncle Vernon!" Harry turned back to Hermione. "I've got to go. But I promise I'll write."
He took off after his uncle before she could reply. He dutifully followed the Dursleys and sat in the back of the car as his uncle fumed in the front seat and complained about everything under the sun. Harry was planning. Dobby had already agreed to meet Harry in his room that night. They were going to go over their plan for the summer. There were some things Harry wanted to do soon that he was going to need help with. He wanted to get some books to study from, and he wanted to visit Gringotts. He had some questions that needed answers.
Harry and Dobby popped into existence in a side alley. Harry was wearing a dark cloak and had a hat pulled down low over his hair and scar, and a pair of dark sunglasses covered his eyes. Dobby followed close behind him as he made his way quickly towards the large white building in front of him. He moved towards the first available goblin that he saw.
"Excuse me," the goblin looked up. "I'd like to ask some questions about my account… privately." The goblin looked closely at him for a few moments.
"Sliphook will take you back to a private conference room." He waved towards another goblin and indicated for Harry to follow him. The goblin led them towards a door and gestured for Harry to enter. He looked momentarily shocked when Dobby followed Harry.
"What can we do for you, Mr. Potter?"
"How did you know it was me?" Harry asked, momentarily shocked.
"We do not recognize humans based off of their face alone, Mr. Potter. Now, what business can we do today?"
"I have some concerns about my account. I'm worried that some things have been mishandled."
"Gringotts does not make mistakes with our accounts, Mr. Potter."
"Oh, I don't mean a mistake on the part of Gringotts. I am concerned that the individuals who have had access to my account have… mishandled that trust."
"How so, Mr. Potter?"
"I have reason to believe that Professor Dumbledore does not have my best interest at heart. I am concerned that he has abused the trust my parents placed in him." The goblin was unable to hide his surprise.
"Professor Dumbledore has made no withdrawals from your vaults, Mr. Potter."
Harry frowned. He had been hoping to receive a different answer. Then he thought about what the goblin had said. "What do you mean vaults? I only know of the one."
"You were not informed over your family vault?"
"No. Do I have access to it?"
"Yes. By the terms of your parents' will, you have access to your vault as soon as you reach the age of eleven, though you cannot remove any money until you reach the age of your majority. You should have been informed of this by Professor Dumbledore."
"The professor has an unusual sense of what it is my right to now," Harry said with a wry smile. "May I see my vault now?"
"Certainly, Mr. Potter. I can take you down now."
Harry and Dobby followed the goblin as he led them into one of the carts. The ride was much longer than the one to Harry's usual vault. This vault was at a much lower level. This only increased Harry's curiosity further. When they exited the cart they were in front of a door with no key hole.
"I don't have the key."
"This vault does not have a key. The Potter Family Vault is very old and has the best protection. It requires a Gringotts goblin to access the vault."
Sliphook ran his finger down the center of the door and Harry was forcibly reminded of his first visit to Gringotts five years ago. This vault must have the highest level of security. The doors opened with a large cloud of dust, and when it cleared Harry gasped in surprise. If he had been shocked by the contents of his other vault it was nothing to this. There were piles of gold and jewels in every direction. There were trunks of valuables. There were shelves full of books. And directly in front of him there was a golden pedestal containing a single letter.
Harry moved close enough to see that the letter was addressed to him in a flowing hand. His breath caught as he carefully picked it up. He slipped it into his pocket to read later. For now he didn't want to break down before he had a look around. He spent several long minutes looking around the vault. Every once in awhile he would pick up a book or some object and pass it to Dobby. The elf was carrying a trunk that he was stowing things in. Satisfied that he had everything he wanted for the moment, Harry pulled the letter out of his pocket and opened it.
October 21, 1981
This is an extremely hard letter for me to write. The idea that we will fail, that somehow we won't be there for you to help you and guide you, is very distressing to me. But I refuse to allow fear to keep me from doing what must be done to help you.
I hope by now Dumbledore has told you the truth. But knowing him, he might have withheld it because he believes that you are not ready to hear it. But I doubt this is the case. In the event that he hasn't told you, you should know that there was a prophecy made shortly before you were born. Dumbledore heard the whole thing, but one of Voldemort's servants heard the first part, and this is the reason that we are in hiding right now. The prophecy referred to a boy, either you or Neville Longbottom, who would have the power to overthrow Voldemort. This is what it said…
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not…, and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…. And his power will be hidden from the world, none to know of it until the beginning of the end…. He will be lead to greatness by one whose love for him is old and strong… The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… with his guide he will prevail, without he will fall lower than any before him have gone… The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…."
If we have died, then I can only assume that the prophecy refers to you. My son, I wish that you did not have to bear this burden, but wishing never changed anything. Your father and I have thought long and hard about what this power could be, and we think we may know. Go back to the pedestal that you found this on, and place your hand on it. Then speak these words: "I seek Godric's Legacy and the secret of the Potter line." Your father has written you another letter explaining what you will find. Do not open it here. You need to be very careful with this knowledge.
Be safe, my son, and know that even though I am not there I will always love you.
Harry stared at the letter in his hand. It did not make sense to him. Why would Dumbledore have only told him part of the prophecy? Why would he not tell him the one part that might actually help him? Was he worried that Harry himself would go dark? Is that what it meant?
Harry shook his head. He did not have time to digest this now. Instead, he walked over and followed his mother's instructions. A small trunk materialized on the pedestal. It looked ancient and valuable. Without opening it, he placed it in the trunk that Dobby held and turned to leave.
He had much to think on, and he did not want to do it here.
That night Harry sat on his bed, staring at the ornate box in his hands. It was inlaid with gold and rubies, and the entire thing was designed with lions and griffons. Just looking at it he had an idea what it might contain. He gingerly lifted the lid. On the top there was a letter, which he pulled out. Beneath it lay something wrapped in gold silk. He opened the letter.
Your mother probably already explained why we left you these letters. We want you to be prepared to face your destiny if we are not there to help you. Dumbledore seems to think that the power that you will have will be love. I don't know where he got that idea. Maybe he is crazier than we thought. I'm not really sure how love of all things could defeat Voldemort. But I'm straying from the point. As soon as I heard the prophecy, I thought of something else. Unfortunately, there is ancient magic that prevents me from discussing it with Dumbledore. But you must be told, and only a blood Potter can tell you. Know that no one can know of this. Indeed, should you try to tell the consequences would be… rather messy. The only exceptions to this rule will be when you settle down with a family of your own. You can tell your wife, and, of course, you can tell your children.
As I'm sure you can guess based on the vault, the Potters are a very old family. Indeed, we have been around since the founding of Hogwarts. Prior to that, of course, you will find no mention of the name Potter. The reason for this is very simple. Right around that time, the founder of our line changed his name for protection. An old feud was threatening to lead to the extermination of the family line, so to protect his family he came up with a new name and hid his heritage. It has been a closely guarded secret ever since.
The man of whom I speak was the son of Godric Gryffindor.
I'm sure you can understand why we are so careful with this knowledge. Especially now with Voldemort trying to continue Slytherin's crusade. You can also see how well this fits with some of the parts of the prophecy. I'm fairly sure I know what this power will be. You see, the family has long kept in reserve an ancient relic that belonged to Godric. It was known as Godric's Legacy, but none have been able to use it since his time. He left it in his son's keeping, and every generation has tested it to see if it will work for them. It never has. You should try too. I'm sure you will understand how.
You must closely guard this secret, Harry. No one can know who it belonged to, even if they do see you use it. If you must confide in anyone, lead them to believe that it is merely a powerful family heirloom. It must remain a secret.
Use this knowledge well, my son. But don't forget to enjoy the good things in life. Life is not all about the battles that must be fought. My life would have been meaningless without your mother and the Marauders in it. Hopefully you will have found similar friends to help you. And I can only hope that the Potter curse will get you as it got me. Don't worry if you don't understand this yet, you will.
Harry stared at the letter in his hands, disbelief and shock on his face. He was descended from Godric Gryffindor! No wonder Voldemort had come after him. It seemed to show a kind of poetic justice. He didn't understand all that his dad had said. That last part made no sense at all, and he almost didn't want to know what would happen if he tried to talk about this mysterious thing his dad was talking about. He supposed it was time to find out.
Harry was so tied up in with the letter he held he didn't hear the pop behind him, nor did he see Dobby apparate in with Ginny. Sensing that something important was happening, she remained quiet as she watched him.
He set the letter aside and reached once more into the box he held. He pulled the silk aside and gasped. Lying inside was what could only be Godric Gryffindor's wand. He understood now. This would indeed be a powerful thing, if he could get it to work. From what Mr. Ollivander had told him, a wand had to choose to work for a wizard, and apparently this wand had not chosen to work for anyone for well over a thousand years. Gingerly, he reached out to touch it and nearly screamed in shock. Harry had held his fair share of wands before. He could always feel something when he held a wand, but some wands were stronger than others. When he held his own wand he could feel warmth shoot up his arm.
This was so much more. The instant he had touched the beautifully carved wand it was like his body came alive. Energy flowed in his veins and warmth shot not only through his arm but through his entire self. He felt his heart rate pick up, and his breath quicken. He pulled the wand out and grasped it firmly in his hands as did so. Instead of the shower of sparks that he had originally got with his holly wand, Godric's wand filled the entire room with dancing red and gold lights. As he looked down at it, the carvings of lions and griffins that surrounded the handle began to move. He watched in shock as they figures danced and frolicked around the wand. He had never seen anything like it.
Behind him Ginny let out a surprised squeak, and Harry turned swiftly, the wand pointed at her heart before he could register who she was.
"I think we solved your magic problem."
"Ginny!" He lowered the wand quickly. "What are you doing here? And what in the bloody hell are you talking about?"
"I came to tell you something important. But it can wait. That wand looks powerful. And since it wasn't purchased for you, the Ministry will never track any magic you perform back to you."
"You mean I can do magic whenever I want now?"
"Well, not really. They still have location based tracking. I doubt you can get away with doing any magic in the vicinity of Privet Drive. But anywhere else, the Ministry shouldn't be able to tell it was you doing it."
"That's fabulous!" Harry smiled brilliantly for a minute before his brain caught up with him and he stared at Ginny in shock and dread. "You shouldn't be here! No one is supposed to know about this!"
"It's okay, Harry. I won't tell anyone that you have a second wand. Where did you get it anyway?"
"It's a family heirloom," he said quickly, "but that is beside the point. My dad said I couldn't tell anyone about it."
"Well, you didn't exactly tell me, so I think it will be fine."
Harry didn't look convinced, but he dropped the subject. Nothing seemed to have happened to either of them, so he obviously hadn't tripped the protection charms his dad had mentioned. He would have to think about why that was later.
"So why did you come, Gin?"
"Oh!" Her face fell. "You aren't going to like this. Dumbledore stopped by today. He pulled Ron and I into the garden and talked to us for awhile. Apparently, he doesn't want us to write you much this summer. He tried to make it sound like it was for security reasons, but I don't believe him. And it wasn't like last summer where he just said we couldn't tell you anything important, he doesn't want us to write you at all most of the time. It didn't make any sense." Harry scowled and tried to control his anger. "But obviously I couldn't tell you this in a letter, and I didn't want you to think I had deserted you. I think we need to set up some kind of mail delivery system with Dobby. I can't risk coming here very often."
"I think I know what is going on." He looked at her carefully, trying to decide how much to tell her. The wand that was still grasped in his hand let out a surge of warmth, and he felt courage shoot into his heart. For the first time, Harry desperately wanted to tell someone about the prophecy and the wand seemed to be agreeing with him. "You might want to sit down for this." He waited until she had set down next to him, and then pulled out his mother's letter. "Do you remember that day you found me wandering around and convinced me to use Dobby to help me?"
"Of course. You were brooding and I had to do something to help."
"Well, I wasn't really brooding about coming back here."
"Of course you weren't."
"You knew?" he spluttered. "But how come you didn't say anything?"
"I know what it is like to have everyone constantly hovering over you trying to fix you. I knew something was wrong, so I tried to distract you. I knew that if you wanted to talk to me about it, you would." He stared at her for several moments.
"Thanks, Ginny. That means a lot to me that you wouldn't push before I was ready."
"You're quite welcome." She beamed at him, and Harry had to blink to clear his thoughts.
"Well, the real reason I was so upset is Dumbledore had pulled me into his office to tell me what the prophecy, the one that Voldemort was after that night, had said." He took a shaky breath and didn't notice when she put a comforting hand over his hand that still held the wand. More warmth shot into his system. "He told me the prophecy and gave me this whole lecture about how it was love that I would use to defeat Voldemort." Ginny looked at him blankly. "Never mind, you'll understand in a minute. But the thing is, he didn't tell me the whole thing."
"What!" She looked outrage.
"When I went to Gringotts today I found out that I have a family vault that he had neglected to tell me about. Inside I found this letter from my mom, and she told me the whole prophecy." He handed it to her. "Here, I want you to read it."
"But, Harry! I can't read a letter from your mom!" She tried to hand it back.
"Sure you can."
"Ginny, just read it already."
She huffed in annoyance, but made no further move to protest. He watched her closely as she read the letter. He knew she had gotten to the prophecy when she gasped and started to shake. A single tear rolled down her cheek.
Harry did not know how to comfort her. He didn't have a very good track record with distraught females. He brushed the tear away with his thumb and sat there quietly watching her. When she finished reading it, she looked up at him with big eyes.
"Oh, Harry! I'm so sorry. And you were trying to deal with this all on your own. Don't you know you will always have someone there to help you?"
"It's alright," he said, embarrassed. "I didn't want to bother anyone."
"You are not a bother, Harry James Potter!"
He wisely decided not to press the issue.
"Do you understand what this prophecy means?"
"No. But I haven't had very much time to think about the second part yet. Dumbledore said that Voldemort heard about the very first part, that's why he came after me in the first place. Dad left me a letter, too, that explains what he thinks this power might be. Sorry, but I can't let you read that one."
"It's alright, Harry. You don't want anyone to know that you have Godric Gryffindor's wand."
"What…" he spluttered at her. "Why would you think that?"
"Oh, Harry," she smiled indulgently at him, "we are really going to have to work on your lying skills if we are going to keep this a secret."
"But… how did you know? No one is supposed to know! Dad said bad things would happen if I told anyone except…" Harry stopped speaking rather abruptly.
"Harry Potter! Don't make me use some of the twins' products on you!"
"It doesn't matter anyways. It couldn't have been talking about you."
"Then you should have no problem telling me." Harry glared at her, but she just watched him with one delicate eyebrow raised.
"Fine," he huffed in annoyance. "Dad said I could only tell my wife and kids."
Ginny's face turned a brilliant shade of red, and Harry refused to meet her eye. They sat in an uncomfortable silence for several minutes. Then Ginny shook herself and changed the subject.
"So how do you want to deal with this letter issue?"
"Dobby?" The elf looked up from where he was organizing the contents of the trunk that they had brought from the vault that day. "Do you think we can schedule a time every week where you can meet with Ginny to exchange letters?"
"Of course, Master Harry. Mistress only need tell Dobby when and where to meet her." Ginny colored once more at the title. Dobby had never called her Mistress before.
"Can you come to my room on Sunday night; about eleven o'clock after everyone has gone to bed?"
"Yes, Mistress. Dobby will come. Mistress need only call for Dobby once she is alone and Dobby will come."
"Thank you, Dobby." She turned to Harry. "Do you want me to tell Ron so that he can write you, too?"
Harry thought about it for a few moments. "What was his reaction to Dumbledore telling him you couldn't write?" Ginny shifted uncomfortably.
"He agreed. Said he didn't want to give you any incentive to leave the safety of Privet Drive. I guess he's worried that if he tells you what is going on you might try and take off on your own."
Harry clenched his hands in fury and stood up to angrily face the wall. He knew that Hermione would agree with anything the Headmaster said, she had a difficult time going against authority, but he had expected better of Ron. Especially after his best mate had seen what withholding information had accomplished last year. Harry didn't calm down until Ginny stepped beside him and placed a comforting hand on his arm.
"Ron doesn't understand what it is like. To have seen the true extent of Voldemort's evil, to want so badly to do something about it, and to feel useless. He doesn't understand the need to know things and do something about it."
"No," Harry looked down at her, "I guess he doesn't. But we do."
"Yes," she said quietly, "we do."
Harry released a breath in annoyance. "I think we better leave everyone else out of this for right now. If Ron is okay with ignoring me all summer, then let him."
"Okay, Harry." She looked at him carefully, wanting to reassure him but yet not knowing how. "I'd better get back. I don't want Mum to come looking for me and not be able to find me."
Harry nodded, and then suddenly enfolded her in his arms. She stiffened momentarily before relaxing and wrapping her own arms around his waist and squeezing him back. He buried his face in her hair and whispered in her ear, "thank you for coming, Gin. I don't think I could do this without you."
"Good thing you don't have to, then," she answered cheekily before stepping back and taking Dobby's hand. "Let's go back to the Burrow, Dobby."
"As Mistress wishes."
A/N: Again, several pieces of this chapter come directly from JKR's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but they are only used to set up the story and no infringement is intended. We are really starting to get into things here. I do want to mention that I am not going to make Dumbledore really evil. He is just extremely manipulative and has trouble understanding that he doesn't always know what is best.
As JKR herself changed her opinion about this several times, I want to make something clear. In my story there are two ways the Ministry can track underage magic. The first is location based, which is why Harry got in trouble in Chamber. The second is a spell put on wands that only dissolves when the witch or wizard turns 17. This is what he avoids by using Godric's wand.
I had an anonymous reviewer claim I was stealing this. Aside from the pieces copied directly from HPOotP, which I mentioned already, this is my own work. I know others have had similar ideas, but I try to do things with a different spin. I'm sorry you feel I am copying, but I assure you that I am not. Believe me, I wouldn't have taken the ages it took to word that prophecy correctly if I were stealing someone else's work.
That begin said, I still do like to hear from readers. Not only do they help motivate me to write, many times they give me ideas as to what direction to take things.
The books that Dobby and I found look really interesting. These defense books have things I've never even heard of before. I'm trying to learn as much as I can. Dobby and I are planning an excursion somewhere where I can practice them. I wish I could do that here.
I've been reading the Occlumency book as well. It actually describes something. All Snape ever told me was 'clear your mind'. That was so helpful. (You'll have to imagine the sarcasm as you read that.) Anyways, it says I need to build defenses in my mind. I've been trying to build a wall, but it is really difficult. And I somehow doubt it will hold up against much.
How is your family doing? I found some cool tricks for you to play on the twins. They're Muggle pranks, so the twins shouldn't catch them. You'll have to tell me how it goes. Maybe you'll even use one or two on Ron. The bloody git still hasn't written me. The only one I've heard from, besides you, is Lupin. He writes every couple of days to make sure the Dursleys are treating me alright.
I found some pretty cool curses. Some remind me of your favorite, so I've sent them along. Ear wax seems almost as good as bogeys.
Greetings, Oh Chosen One!
At least, that's what the Daily Prophet has taken to calling you. Imagine if they knew the truth! Ron has been muttering about it. He told me yesterday that the Prophet was loony, as you would have told him if that were true. I politely asked him how he expected you to tell him anything when he refused to write you. That shut him up. I think he might be starting to realize that agreeing to Dumbledore's demands might not have been the best thing for you.
Mum and Dad have been trying to keep us away from the war, but I cornered Bill the other day and he told me a couple of things. Evidently, Dumbledore is worried that the goblins might side with Voldemort. Same thing with the werewolves. Bill and Lupin have been working on it, but from the sound of things they aren't making much progress. I wonder if there is anything we can do about that?
There have been several small attacks reported in the Prophet. Most have been on Muggle families. But yesterday a wizarding family was attacked. The daughter was a third year Hufflepuff. No one survived.
That's all for the news I have. I'm glad you are learning so much. And thanks for the pranks and curses. I have grand plans for this Sunday dinner when the twins will be there. I was thinking about your Occlumency wall. I would recommend something underhanded. Build your wall so that if it is breached it explodes or something. (Can't you tell I grew up around the twins?) I also think you should have some more aggressive defenses. Maybe a dragon or something. That way if someone gets through you still have protections in place.
Harry woke up in a cold sweat, screaming at the top of his lungs. If he could have focused enough on something besides the nightmare he woke up from he would have realized how he was extremely grateful for the silencing charm that Dobby had placed around his room. Instead, Harry's mind could not let go of the image of Sirius falling backwards through the veil. He had had the same nightmare every day for the past several weeks, ever since the night he had lost Sirius. He curled up on the bed, digging the heels of his hands into his eyes until stars clouded his vision, as he tried to calm his breathing. This endeavor took several minutes.
"Master Harry, can Dobby help yous with anything?" The elf stood by the side of Harry's bed, wringing his hands in agony. Dobby had been beside himself with worry over his young master. Harry had not slept through the night since they had arrived at Privet Drive.
"I'll be okay, Dobby. Why don't we just have breakfast?"
"Yes, Master Harry. Dobby will get it ready."
Harry pulled himself out of bed and stumbled down the hall to the loo. He splashed cold water on his face in an attempt to clear his head. Then he began planning his day.
The books that he had collected from the Potter Family Vault had proved a wealth of information. Harry had spent the last several weeks reading as much as he could, wishing he could put more of it in to practice. He had latched on to a book on Occlumency. It had amazed him how much easier it was to learn when he didn't have Snape trying to antagonize him, and Ginny's suggestions to him had proved invaluable. He had booby trapped his wall with several things inspired by the twins and he was raising not only a dragon but several griffins and even a couple Blast-Ended Skrewts. He knew he was no where good enough to block out Voldemort, but he was making progress at least. And he was fairly confident that Dumbledore, who didn't have the added advantage of causing Harry pain in his scar to distract him, would not be able to get through. In addition to studying Occlumency, Harry had spent a great deal of time reading several books he had found on Defensive Magic, and even one slightly scary book on Dark Magic. He figured he had to know what he was dealing with. But reading was never enough, and today he was determined to remedy that.
He and Dobby were heading to the middle of a forest where he would be able to practice his spells with his new wand.
It wasn't very much later when Harry took Dobby's hand and they disappeared, only to reappear in the middle of a forest that Harry had never heard of until Dobby had suggested it the day before. Harry had pulled out the atlas and made sure that it was far away from any civilization. Just because his wand was untraceable it didn't mean he still couldn't get caught.
Harry spent the morning practicing all the new spells he had read on. It surprised him how easily they came, as he had always had to work hard to master new spells. These seemed to come almost immediately. Harry thought it was probably the power of the wand coming through, for which he was grateful.
Dobby disappeared for a few minutes around lunch time, claiming he would return with food. Harry continued his practice, shooting spells at a conveniently located rock. Thus he did not hear when Dobby returned.
"Would Master Harry like his lunch now?"
"Sure, Dob… Gin!" Harry stared at the smiling redhead in front of him. "What are you doing here?"
"Dobby thought I could help."
"But we don't have another wand for you to use."
"Oh, he didn't want me to help with your spell work. You seem to be doing marvelously on your own."
"Then why are you here?"
"Come and sit with me while we eat."
Harry looked at her curiously. He still didn't know why she was here, but he was grateful nonetheless. Ginny's presence served to remind him of why he was doing what he was doing. The two teens talked lightly as they ate, chatting about the lighter subjects of school and Quidditch. Ginny told him the twins' most recent pranks, and Harry entertained her with stories of Dudley's attempts to fool his parents. It wasn't until after lunch that things became more serious.
Ginny quietly packed up the lunch things, as Dobby had disappeared, then turned towards Harry and patted her lap. "Come lay down, Harry." He looked at her incredulously. "Oh, don't look at me like that. You're going to put your head in my lap and then we're going to talk all about these dreams of yours."
Shame came into his eyes and he quickly looked away. "I don't want to talk about that, Gin."
"I'm not really giving you a choice, Harry James Potter. Keeping things all bottled up never helped anyone. You need to talk about it."
Harry shook his head furiously, still refusing to meet her eyes. Ginny huffed in annoyance. She reached up and yanked on his arm, and Harry squawked in surprise as he fell into her lap.
"Now listen here, Potter. You and I both know that you need to deal with this. And if you still refuse I will curse you. I'm sure Godric would agree with me; I can get the wand to work."
"Gin! You aren't supposed to talk about that!"
"I'm perfectly willing to listen to you instead," she answered with a smirk.
She didn't respond, only watching him patiently. Harry huffed in annoyance and looked away from her.
"I don't know what you want me to say, Gin. Every night I watch him fall through that bloody veil over and over again. And every single time there's nothing I can do about it."
"Oh, Harry." She watched as a solitary tear rolled down his cheek until he angrily wiped it away. She took his chin in her hand and gently turned his face back towards her. She removed his glasses, folding them up and putting them to the side. As she placed a hand gently on his cheek she fought back the sigh that wanted to escape when his brilliant emerald eyes, swimming with tears, looked up at her. "Harry, it is okay to miss him. We all do."
"But he was all I had, Gin." Her hand shot out and slapped him hard across his chest. "Hey!"
"Don't you dare say that, Potter! You have me, and my family, and Hermione. Don't you realize that we love you just as much as Sirius did?" Harry tried to look away in embarrassment, but she wouldn't let him. "I know it is hard to lost Sirius, Harry, but you have to know that there are still plenty of people that care about you."
"I know. I just feel so guilty. It's my fault that he is dead, Gin. How can I live with that?"
"You don't have to, Harry, because it isn't your fault." He made to interrupt, but she held up her hand to stop him. "I know you feel that way, and I, of all people, know why you do. Don't you think I felt the same way after my first year?"
"That wasn't your fault, Gin. Voldemort used you," he said fiercely.
"Precisely. He used me. Just like he used you."
"It's not the same."
"Of course it is. If things had been a little bit different and someone had actually died from the basilisk, would you have blamed me?" He shook his head furiously. "Then why do you blame yourself? Voldemort tricked you, led you into a trap, and because of that Sirius died. But you didn't kill him." He didn't look convinced. "Harry? Who killed Sirius?"
He opened his mouth to answer, but she glared at him. Finally he murmured, "Bellatrix."
"Yes, Bellatrix. Not Harry. So why don't we take all this energy you are wasting blaming yourself and put it to a better use? We'll go after Bellatrix."
"I don't stand a chance against her, Gin."
"Well, true, you probably don't right now. But she is a much more doable goal than Voldemort himself. So we'll train you up good and go after her first."
A slow smile spread across Harry's face. "Thanks, Gin. You're the best."
"And don't you forget it!" They laughed merrily together, and then Harry made to get up, but Ginny pushed him back down. "You just lay there for awhile. You could use a good rest."
"But, Gin! I'm crushing you!"
"Rubbish. You just shut those beautiful eyes," Harry blushed at the compliment, "And get some rest. I'm just going to sit here and enjoy the sunshine."
She began gently running one hand through his hair as she looked out on the forest. For several long minutes Harry stared up at her, until she gently lulled him to sleep.
For the first time in weeks he slept without nightmares.
Harry woke up, slightly disoriented, in his own bed. He had no idea how he had gotten there. The last thing he remembered was falling asleep in Ginny's lap out in the forest. The memory caused a blush to heat his cheeks, though he didn't take the time to ponder exactly why. There were several things revolving around Ginny that he knew he would have to think about soon, but right now he was content to put it off for awhile. His life was hectic enough.
A loud knock on the door startled him. No one ever knocked on his door here. He laid his hand on his new wand, which was resting under his pillow, and called, "come in."
Aunt Petunia's bony face appeared in the doorway. Harry had barely seen his relatives this summer. Petunia never asked how Harry was eating, and as long as he kept to himself they steered clear. "This came for you in the mail this morning." She tossed a thick envelope on his bed. "I thought all your freaky friends sent their letters with owls." Without waiting for a response, Aunt Petunia quickly shut the door.
Harry turned to the letter. He was shocked to see a regular Muggle letter addressed to him, but when he looked closely he recognized the handwriting. Hermione. Why in the world was she sending him Muggle post? He hastily tore open the envelope.
I'm sure you are probably wondering why I am writing you through the Muggle post. Well, it was Ron's idea, actually. I guess you should know that the day after term ended Professor Dumbledore came to see me, and I understand he went to the Burrow as well. He seemed to think it would be safer if we didn't write you at all this summer. At first, I believed him. I didn't want anything setting you off so soon after losing Sirius, so I didn't want to inform you of what was happening in the wizarding world. I guess I forgot what happened last summer when we didn't tell you anything.
Anyways, Ron sent me an owl. Evidently something Ginny had said really upset him. He realized how you would probably take it if we really did abandon you this summer. He made several good points. It was his idea that maybe it would be okay to communicate through Muggle post. So if you want to write back to Ron (I've included a letter from him as well) just sent it to me and I'll make sure he gets it.
Now that that is over, I hope you are doing okay. I know how horrible it must be to be stuck at the Dursleys, but it shouldn't be for too much longer. And I hope you are coming to terms with Sirius' death. Remember, it wasn't your fault, Harry.
My parents and I spent the last several weeks on vacation, but we're back now and so I've been reading the material for next year. I'm so excited to start NEWT levels. I hope we get our OWL results soon. Do you know when they should be coming? I'm ever so worried about my Astronomy exam. They really should give us some leniency seeing as how the exam was interrupted.
Remember, you can contact us immediately if you need anything. I hope you've been doing your school work and keeping occupied.
Harry was slightly shocked upon reading this letter. Of course, he had already known about Dumbledore's interference, so he wasn't really mad at his friends. But it still surprised him that Ron, of all people, had thought of a way around the restriction. Albeit, a very slow way.
"Yes, Master Harry?" the elf asked as he popped into existence.
"I think I'm going to write some letters for Ron and Hermione. Is there a way you can deliver them without being seen?"
"Yes, sir. Dobby can do it."
"Thanks, Dobby. I'll have them for you later today."
As the elf busied himself making breakfast, Harry turned to the other letter.
So I'm sure Hermione already explained all about the letter situation. I can't believe Dumbledore would think it was a good idea to leave you in the dark again. The last time he did that you got attacked by Dementors. I don't know if you're going to be able to respond this way or not, but thought you still might like to hear from us.
The summer has been pretty fun so far. I've spent most of my time playing Quidditch or helping Fred and George. They hired me to do some work for them this summer. I get to help make some of the products. At least I'm not testing them, though. It is nice to have a little bit of spending money. Think I might need some new Quidditch gloves.
No word yet on when we are going to be able to get you out of there, mate. I was hoping by your birthday, but that is next week so it isn't looking good. Ginny is adamant about you being here by her birthday. I'm not sure why, it's not like you're going to get her a present or anything. You guys barely talk.
I hope you can write soon.
Ron's letter was typical, Harry thought. The only thing missing was a snide comment about Victor Krum. But the last few lines bothered Harry. He knew that he was much better friends now with Ginny than he had been before, but was it really as bad as Ron was making it seem? And of course he was going to get her a present. After all she had done to help him, it was the least he could do. Shaking his head, Harry sat down at his desk to write a response to his two letters.
It was three days before his birthday when Harry decided to take Ginny's advice and see what he could do about the Goblins and Werewolves. He didn't have great hope that he would be able to do much for the situation, but there was no harm in trying. He had Dobby apparate him to the forest where he was able to use his wand to place some Glamour charms to disguise his appearance, then they were off to Gringotts. When they arrived in the lobby Harry headed straight to an available goblin.
"Excuse me." The goblin looked up with a scowl on its face. "I would like to meet with the manager, if possible."
"Is there a problem, Mr. Po…"
"I would really appreciate it if no humans were made aware of my visit today," Harry interrupted him quickly. "Some issues have come to my attention which would affect both myself and the Goblin nation. I wish to address these."
The goblin nodded in understanding. "If you would follow me, I'll see if one of our senior managers is available."
Harry thanked the goblin and he and Dobby followed as they were led into a lavish waiting area. Several minutes later the goblin returned.
"Mr. Potter, Gornak will see you now."
"Thank you," Harry said as he walked past the goblin to the door he had left open.
Harry found himself in a large office. There was an ornate and ancient looking desk behind which sat an elderly looking goblin who was dressed in opulent finery. The goblin motioned for Harry to have a seat before introducing himself.
"Good day, Mr. Potter. I am Gornak."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Gornak."
"I understand you have some business you wish to discuss."
"Yes. I am good friends with the Weasley family, and through Bill Weasley I was recently made aware of two situations which concern me. I was wondering if I could trouble you for help in resolving them."
"Bill Weasley is an excellent curse breaker. What concerns you?"
"The first concerns the werewolves. I understand that Voldemort has been successful in recruiting most of them to his cause."
"Yes. As you can imagine, Voldemort can offer them much more than the Ministry is prepared to."
"Precisely. I am good friends with a werewolf and believe there is a way for me to combat this." Gornak acknowledged for him to continue. "My friend has been able to be an active participant in our world for the last several years due to his ability to take the Wolfsbane potion."
"Mr. Lupin is lucky that he has access to such."
"Yes, and this is what I would like to rectify. I understand that I recently inherited the bulk of the Black family estate?"
"Yes. With the death of Sirius Black you have increased your wealth by a substantial amount."
"I have no wish to use this money for myself. Most of it came through means I do not approve of. I would like to set up an account that would pay for Wolfsbane to be manufactured and made available free of charge to any werewolf who desires it."
It took a good bit of self control for Harry to not laugh outright at the look of shock on Gornak's face. Goblins were known for being inscrutable, but Harry had shocked the goblin quite thoroughly. After several minutes of silence Gornak collected himself and spoke.
"This will be quite an expensive undertaking, Mr. Potter."
"I'm aware of this. But as I said, I have no wish to use that money for myself. And it is my hope that others will be inclined to help in the effort once they realize that werewolves are as human as themselves. Also, by offering the means for werewolves to integrate themselves into wizarding society and avoid much of the pain of their transformations I am hoping to encourage many of them to side with me instead of Voldemort."
Harry said this with careful calculation. He was well aware that he was revealing a good deal to the goblins, but he intended to show them that he trusted them, thus encouraging them to do the same. Gornak looked at him carefully and then continued.
"Do you wish any restrictions to be placed on those who can draw from this fund?"
"No. Anyone who can verify their need for it can have access. I do not wish to discriminate against anyone."
"Very well, Mr. Potter. I will see to it that this is set up as soon as possible. We will owl you with the details as soon as possible. Is there anything else that Gringotts can do for you today, sir?"
The respect did not escape Harry's notice, and he was glad for it. It might help his next request. "Yes, sir. There was one other issue I was told about." He hesitated. This could end very badly, but he had to try. "Professor Dumbledore seems to think the Goblin nation intends to side with Voldemort in this war. You can see why this would concern me."
Gornak's expression became blank. "It should not be your concern who the goblins choose to support, Mr. Potter."
"Oh, but it is. I have long been aware of the prejudices and inequities that exist in our society, sir, but only recently have I come in to a position where I might be able to do something about this. I do not wish to fight against those who are simply trying to ensure their rights. Rights which they are entitled to."
Once again Gornak was unable to conceal his shock. "You seem awfully sure that you will be fighting this war."
"That's because I will." Harry smiled ruefully. "The Daily Prophet does not always get it wrong."
"And you reveal this to me? Why?"
"As I said, I am interested in pursuing an agreement that would be mutually beneficial. I do not want to have to fight the goblins as well as Voldemort, and you want the rights that wizards have denied you for centuries."
"Do you imagine that you can somehow rectify this problem?"
"I am not all powerful, but I imagine that if thinks should end in my favor I will have a fair bit of influence over the wizarding world. This influence I could exert in your behalf."
Gornak eyed him carefully, sizing him up. Harry returned his gaze. "If we were to reach such an agreement, would you expect the goblins to join you in the fight?"
Harry thought carefully. "I do not expect you to risk your lives for wizards who would not extend you the same courtesy. However there are certain things I would expect. I would expect for you maintain the integrity of your bank, to remain above influence from either side. There may come a time when I would feel the need to ask for more, but this would only be in the direst of circumstances, and it would always come in the form of a request instead of a demand."
"These are things we would do for our own sakes more than yours."
"Agreed. I simply wish to ensure that your neutrality would not be compromised in regards to the running of Gringotts. If, in addition, you choose to pass on any information that might be pertinent for my fight you would have my gratitude. I will, of course, inform you of any issues I feel might influence Gringotts."
"Your skills in diplomacy are excellent, Mr. Potter."
Harry smiled ruefully. "I was tutored by the best in preparation for this meeting."
Gornak almost smiled. "By whom, may I ask?"
Harry Potter became one of the only wizards to ever witness the phenomenon that is a goblin's laughter. It was a sight to behold.
"You are a rare wizard, Mr. Potter."
"I try to be above the prejudices of my kind."
"Indeed you do. You make a most interesting offer. Of course, I cannot decide such a thing for my entire nation, but you have my word that I will bring your offer to the Goblin High Council."
"I could ask for no more. Thank you for your time."
"I shall be in contact, Mr. Potter."
"It would be best if contact relating to this issue was not transmitted via owl. I'm sure you can understand the need to be careful."
"How shall we contact you, Mr. Potter?"
"My friend Dobby has volunteered to make himself available as a means of communication if needed."
"And how are we to contact this Dobby?"
"Dobby is my house elf." Gornak's eyes widened at Harry's way of speaking of an elf. "He is waiting outside. He will come if you call, and he can bring me here if you need to speak to me."
"Thank you, Mr. Potter. It has been an interesting pleasure doing business with you."
"And you, sir. Thank you for your time."
The day of Harry's birthday came quickly. He had been so caught up in working on his spell work and various other things that if Dobby hadn't arrived with a package (from Ginny) and a cake (that he had made himself) Harry might have forgotten all about it. Instead, he happily munched on some cake while opening the long and thin package that Ginny had sent. Inside was a long piece of red leather with several ties and braces. Not knowing what it was he picked up the note that was attached.
Happy Birthday! This is a wand holder for your new wand. I made it from a piece of dragon hide (Chinese fireball) that Charlie got for me. It should protect your wand from any spell damage when you aren't using it. I had Bill help me with the rest. I've attached the instructions that will key the holster to both yourself and your wand. Once you've done that, not only will you be the only one that can draw the wand, but it will also be invisible to everyone else. I figured you were going to want a way to hide the wand, and yet always have it on you.
Dumbledore has finally agreed to let you come here for the rest of the summer. I expect you'll have a letter about it later today. I can't wait to see you again, and I'm glad you're getting away from those awful Dursleys. I'll see you soon!
Harry turned back to the holster, carefully running his hand up and down it. It looked fantastic, and for her to have made it herself! Harry was astonished. He knew how tough dragon hide was and could only assume that it had taken a good bit of work. It was the perfect gift as well, as Harry had been worried about hiding the wand from everyone. Harry should have guessed that Ginny would have thought of something for the situation; she thinks of everything. Unfortunately, he would need to wait until he got to the Burrow to place the charms on the holster, but he figured it shouldn't be too hard to get a few minutes to himself.
A small pop announced Dobby's return. "Master Harry, sir. Dobby is wishing you a happy birthday, sir."
"Thank you, Dobby."
"Dobby made yous a present, sir."
The elf handed Harry a badly wrapped and oddly shaped package. Grinning, Harry unwrapped it to reveal a pair of truly unusual socks. One was gold with red lions and the other turquoise with yellow birds. "Thanks Dobby! These are brilliant!"
Dobby blushed and ducked his head. "Master is too kind." He pulled out an envelope. "This letter arrived for Master." Harry took it to read.
Professor Dumbledore has finally agreed to let you come spend the rest of your summer with us. It's about time, too, as I suspect those Dursleys haven't been feeding you properly. But don't worry, dear, I'll fatten you right up in no time.
Arthur and Remus will be calling for you tomorrow morning, so make sure all your things are packed and ready.
"Brilliant!" Harry exclaimed. "I get to go to the Burrow tomorrow, Dobby."
"Will Master be wanting Dobby to return to Hogwarts, then?"
"Yeah, that will probably be best. I'll call you if I need anything. And Mrs. Weasley will make sure I'm eating well."
"Yes, sir. Should Dobby pack you's things today, sir?"
"Yeah, that would be brilliant. Thanks Dobby."
Harry pulled out one of his books and settled down to his reading.
Harry awoke to a sharp poke in his side.
"Master Harry, sir. Yous must wake up."
He looked up blearily to see Dobby wringing his hands with worry.
"What's the matter, Dobby?"
"Tiss Mistress Ginny, sir."
Harry shot out of bed. "Ginny! What's wrong with her?"
"I is not sure, sir. But I can feel her crying. Mistress is most upset, sir."
"Dobby?" Harry asked curiously as he hastily threw on some clothes, "Why do you call Ginny mistress?"
"Because Dobby belongs to Mistress just like he does to Master Harry."
"That doesn't make any sense, Dobby. Can't a house elf only belong to one family?"
"Master Harry will understand when he is ready. Should I be taking you to Mistress now, sir?"
"Yes. Let's go to Ginny."
Instead of popping in to Ginny's room at the Burrow as Harry had expected, they arrived in the middle of the garden. Harry looked around, unable to spot Ginny, until Dobby pulled insistently on his hand and pointed towards the direction of the pond. Harry could make out the faint sounds of sobbing though the night air. He cautiously made his way over, wand out, and called softly, "Gin? Are you alright?" He got no response, but as he drew closer he saw a small redheaded figure sitting on the ground by the pond, her arms wrapped tightly around her knees as she cried. Carefully, Harry sat down beside her, but she made no indication that she knew he was there. At a loss of what to do, Harry gingerly put his arm around her.
Wordlessly, Ginny turned into his embrace, climbing almost completely into his lap as she cried. He wrapped both arms around her waist and squeezed her to him, murmuring words of comfort in her ear. It was a long time before her sobs began to subside.
"What's wrong with me, Harry?" she asked with a quiet and defeated voice.
Harry was shocked. He hadn't seen Ginny so beaten down in years, and it scared him. "There's absolutely nothing wrong with you. In fact, I was thinking earlier today how you were pretty near perfect."
She scoffed at him. "If that were true then things like this wouldn't happen to me."
"Well, I can't really argue with you until I know what is going on."
She looked up at him curiously. "You don't know what happened?" He shook his head. "Then how did you know to come here?"
"Dobby woke me up; he was a right state, claiming that you were upset. I never asked why."
"You came just because I was upset?"
"That's very sweet, Harry."
"Don't worry about it. Now what has you so upset?"
She lowered her eyes. "Do you remember how I told you guys I was dating Dean on the train ride home?" Harry nodded hesitantly. Truthfully he had forgotten, as he hadn't really thought it was any of his business at the time. But now, Harry's stomach clenched with the thought that maybe Dean had hurt her. If he had, well, Harry had learned quite a few interesting curses recently. It would be fun to get to test them on someone. "We've been writing all summer. He's even come over a few times and once Mum let us go to Diagon Alley for the day. It was wonderful; I really thought he cared about me." She took a shaky breath. "Then today he writes me a letter saying how he was sorry, but he just didn't think it would work out anymore." Harry's fists clenched in anger against her sides. "The worst part is that he didn't even have the decency to tell me to my face. No, he gave a letter to George, asked if he could give it to me. Couldn't even be troubled to send me a bloody owl. And George says he was fairly certain he saw him snogging Parvati Patil later that day. Bloody git. Couldn't even tell me that he was seeing someone else."
At first, Harry didn't respond. He pulled her tightly to his chest, his hands making soothing motions against her back. Then he tucked his head into her neck and spoke softly into her ear. "I don't know what the idiot was thinking, Gin. But you are so much better than Parvati. Remember, I took her to the Yule Ball. One of the most boring nights of my life. You, on the other hand, make every day that I am with you worthwhile. And if Dean bloody Thomas can't see that, than it is his loss. You deserve much better than him anyways."
"If I am so great, than how come I keep getting dumped?"
"Because guys are idiots. Believe me, I know. I spent two years obsessed with a girl I don't even like."
"You did like her, though."
"No, not really. I mean, she's pretty and all, but I never once spent an enjoyable minute with her. Sometimes I felt like I liked her because I had to, but I had no clue why. But enough about Cho. We were talking about a much better girl. I don't know what Michael or Dean's problem was, Gin, but I mean what I said. If they can't see the remarkable girl that I can, then it is their loss." He pulled back to grin cheekily at her. "Besides, with them out of the way it leaves you so much more time for me."
She lightly smacked him upside the head. "Harry Potter! You are so full of yourself."
"Yep! Now, no more crying over prats who aren't worth it, right?" She nodded, a small smile tugging on her lips. "Now, let's just sit here for awhile. It's not every day I get to hold a beautiful girl in my arms."
Ginny ducked her head back into his chest to hide her blush, but she remained on his lap. It wasn't long before her breath evened out as she fell asleep. But Harry remained where he was, looking out over the pond and pondering the girl he held in his arms.
He had known Ginny for five years now, but only in the last couple months had they gotten close. She had been there for him when no one else was, she had helped guide him down the path he needed to take, and she had offered him the help and comfort he needed. But this was not all there was to think about. There were several incidents over the past two months that had stood out in his mind. He remembered how he had actually wanted to tell Ginny about the prophecy, despite his resolve to never tell anyone. He remembered how Ginny had instantly guessed the origin of his wand, and yet nothing had happened despite his dad's warnings. He remembered how Dobby had taken to calling her Mistress, and seemed to be following all of her orders as well as his. He remembered how she had come to help him and held him as he cried that day in the woods, more concerned about his well being than anything else. He remembered how she had guided him through what to say to the goblins, helping him do more in one meeting than Dumbledore had been able to do in years. He remembered all the other ways she had helped him and guided him in the last several months. He remembered the anger that had coursed through his system when he heard how Dean had treated her, and the relief that flooded him when he realized that she was free of the prat. All of these things added up to something a little frightening, in Harry's opinion.
He fancied Ginny Weasley.
Harry's stomach twisted itself in knots. The idea of liking Ginny was strangely pleasant. Unlike what he always felt like around Cho (his stomach insisting he liked her despite his brain and heart disagreeing) this feeling permeated his entire system. The frightening part was in pondering what he should do about it. He didn't know if she even felt the same way. After all, he had just held her as she cried herself to sleep about another boy. Was it worth risking her friendship? Then he realized that none of this really mattered right now. Ginny had only today broken up with Dean. She would need time to get over that. He would just have to bide his time.
With a sigh, Harry cradled Ginny in his arms and stood up. He carefully made his way to the Burrow, keeping a sharp eye out for anyone else (he would have a hard time explaining his presence if caught). He made his way up the stairs towards Ginny's room, a room he had never before been in. Cautiously, he opened the door and walked in, then he set Ginny down on her bed. He pulled her shoes off and drew a blanket up around her. With one final look at her tear-streaked face he turned to leave, only to come up short when he saw what was sitting on her desk.
In a simple silver frame was a picture that Harry didn't even remember being taken. It was of him. He was sitting besides the Hogwarts Lake, not looking at the camera, with a pensive look on his face. It looked about a year old, maybe less. Harry stared at it, not understanding why it was there, unless… But she couldn't possibly feel that way about him, could she? Harry shook himself. This was not the place; he needed to get home before he was caught.
"Dobby," he called softly. The elf popped quietly into existence at his side. "Let's go home."
Dobby quietly took his hand and took them back to his room. Just as Harry was crawling into bed, Dobby spoke. "Mistress cares a great deal for Master." Harry looked over at the elf. "Master must endeavor to earn the love she has for him."
Harry stared in shock as Dobby disappeared from his room. He wasn't sure if Dobby was talking to Harry or himself. But he believed the elf more than his own thoughts. Dobby would know what Ginny really thought of him, and he couldn't imagine the elf lying.
Harry did not sleep any more that night.
Harry was sitting in his bed, reading a book on charms, when he heard the doorbell the next morning. He quickly marked his place and scrambled down the stairs to find Mr. Weasley and Remus waiting in the hall while the Dursleys looked on nervously. Petunia was eyeing Remus with fear, and Harry wondered if she had known him before. But he wasn't really concerned about this.
"Harry!" Remus called upon seeing him. "You ready to go?"
"Yeah. I'll just bring my trunk down."
He ran back up to his room and lugged his trunk down. Dobby had cast a small weightlifting charm on it this morning to make it easier to maneuver, but it would be too suspicious to lighten it completely. As he appeared once more at the top of the stairs Remus walked up to help him. He tapped the trunk with his wand and it disappeared.
"We're going to be taking a portkey in a minute, Harry. Do you have everything you need?"
"Yeah. I'm all set."
"You have your wand, right?"
"Yes." Harry pulled out his holly wand, at the same time carefully checking to make sure his other wand was secure in its holster hidden under his sleeve. "Do you expect we'll have any problems?"
"No. But it is always best to be prepared."
"It's about time, Harry," Mr. Weasley called. "You better come down here and get ready."
Harry ran down with Remus behind him, and they both placed their finger on the old spoon that Mr. Weasley was holding out. In only a few seconds, Harry felt the familiar pull behind his navel as he was whirled away. As per usual, his legs crumbled out from under him as he landed.
"Typical, Potter. You never can land on your feet."
Harry looked up to see Ginny's smiling face beaming down at him.
"What can I say, Gin. Your beauty sweeps me off my feet."
He smirked at her as she stared at him in shock. "Harry!"
She swatted his shoulder as he pushed himself off the floor, knocking back down. He just continued to grin at her.
"What has gotten in to you?"
He laughed as he stood up and slung an arm around her shoulder. He leaned down to whisper in her ear. "I got to hold a gorgeous woman last night. Life is good."
Before she could respond through her astonishment he was bounding up the stairs towards Ron's room. She stared after him in shock. She wasn't sure what had gotten in to him today, but she liked it. She liked it a lot. Ginny knew that Harry had carried her up to her room last night, and she had been worried that he had seen the picture she had on her desk. She was also embarrassed over having broken down so fully in front of him, and over Dean of all people. She hadn't even really liked Dean all that much, at least not compared to how she cared for Harry. But Ginny was so used to being rejected by boys. First Harry, though he did so unknowingly, then Michael and Dean. She had been nervous that he would treat her differently today, that he would treat her carefully. She was pleasantly shocked to be wrong. For the first time in a long time Ginny entertained the hope that maybe Harry was returning her long held but oft ignored feelings. The thought sent a thrill through her heart.
Harry took things carefully over the next several days. He knew he fancied Ginny, and he was fairly sure that she felt the same way, but he also knew that he wanted to take things slowly. And this included spending time with her in person. Despite the many letters they had exchanged this summer he had really spent very little time in her presence, and this was something he needed to rectify if he was going to pursue any kind of relationship with her. Accordingly he tried to include her whenever he and Ron did anything. This, of course, had the result of arousing Ron's suspicions. Ron finally cornered him about it.
"What's up with you and my sister, mate?"
"What do you mean?"
"How come you always seem to want her around?"
"Because she's my friend."
"Yeah, but isn't this a little sudden? You never used to do much with her."
"Well, I was a bit of a prat, wasn't I? And I have done stuff with her before this. I spent quite a bit of time with her at the end of last year. And we've been writing all summer."
Ron looked at him in shock, completely forgetting about the gnome he had been reaching for to fling out of the garden. "Writing? But we weren't supposed to write to you."
"Yeah, but you found a way around that. What makes you think Ginny didn't too?"
"She never said anything."
"No. Because you were being a git. But how do you think my letters got to your room. Did they just magically appear?"
Ron looked at him carefully. "Are you guys dating?"
Harry stopped what he was doing and looked up at his best mate. "No, Ron, we aren't dating." He paused for a few moments. "Yet." Ron blanched at that.
"Do you want to date her?"
"Yeah, I think I do." Harry met Ron's eyes, determined to not back down from this. Ron was going to have to get used to the idea that Harry might like his sister.
"You're not just taking advantage of her, are you? Using her feelings for you?"
"You know me better than that Ron."
"Yeah. But it just seems kind of weird. I mean, Ginny had been in love with you for years and all the sudden you start to like her too." Harry raised an eyebrow at him. "I'm just trying to protect my sister, mate."
"I know. That's the only reason I haven't hexed you yet."
"You can't hex me. You can't afford another warning from the Ministry."
Harry smirked at his friend. With a casual flick of his wrist Godric's wand was in his hand. Ron eyed it carefully then looked up at Harry with a challenging look. Harry only smiled as he gave the wand a sharp jab. He turned to walk back in to the house, not even watching as Ron's skin turned an eerie shade of green, a small smile playing on his lips.
He stopped short when he saw Ginny standing in the door, looking at him incredulously.
"Was it wise to do that, Potter?"
Harry shrugged. "He's going to find out about my having another wand eventually." He smirked at her. "Besides, he was asking for it."
"And just what was he doing?"
"Sticking his nose where it doesn't belong."
"Don't think I won't ask what this was all about, Potter."
"Oh, I'm sure you will. But he won't say anything."
"Sure about that?"
"Yep." He brushed past her, then called down from the stairs, "he wouldn't want to face my wrath if her were to tell you I fancied you before I could."
Smiling, Harry ran up the stairs, leaving a gob smacked Ginny staring after him. He was having a rather large amount of fun teasing her like this.
A/N: So a lot things are starting to happen. I didn't really want Harry to be estranged from Ron and Hermione, but I needed the excuse for them not to talk to him for the summer. He needed time to get closer with Ginny. Some questions were answered this chapter about his relationship with her, but not all. There is more going on there than meets the eye. Also, Ginny recognized the wand for what it was because of the clue left by Lily's letter, the box and wand's decorations and the color of the sparks. That and she is brilliant. As for the goblins, no it is not going to be that easy. But they are more inclined to work with him than Dumbledore. After all, Dumbledore has been in power for a long time and didn't try to help them until the war started.
I know that Harry seems more mature (not to mention cheeky!) in this story, but that is the result of his new confidence that comes with the wand, his ability to take control of some of his life, and Ginny's influence.
I don't want anyone to think that just because I am not pointing it out certain things aren't happening. Harry is studying and working every day. He is still grieving, and blaming himself somewhat, for Sirius. He is still dealing with the prophecy. But I am of the belief that unless there is something important or new I can add about a situation that I have brought up that I'll leave it to your imagination.
Let me know what you think and enjoy!
The next morning, Harry bounded down the stairs to find Ginny in the kitchen helping her mum to prepare breakfast. When she saw him, Ginny blushed spectacularly and ducked her head. Harry laughed outright at this before coming up beside her, slipping his arm around her waist, and whispering in her ear.
"Merlin, I've missed that blush."
She swatted him across the chest. "Harry! What has gotten into you recently?"
He stepped away from her, laughing once again, as he piled his breakfast onto a plate. "I don't have to see the Dursleys for another year, I get to practice without worrying about the Ministry, and I get to spend the next several weeks in the company of the most beautiful witch in the world without worrying about my best mate trying to kill me."
He looked thoughtfully up at her, his emerald eyes twinkling. "Actually, I think my good mood is entirely based on that last one."
He winked at her before turning back to his plate. He didn't look up as she growled in frustration and turned back to her work. It was several silent minutes later that he got up to put his plate in the sink. With his hands free he once more wrapped an arm around her waist and leaned down to talk in her ear.
"I've got an errand to run today with Dobby. I'll be back by dinner."
She placed her hand on his arm to prevent his leaving. "Mum will be worried if you aren't here for lunch."
"I plan to fall asleep in the woods," he winked at her. "Unfortunately, no one will be able to find me."
"Are you going to practice? Do you want me to go with you?"
"I don't plan on practicing, and I would love for you to go with me, but it would defeat the purpose of my trip."
"And what purpose is that, Potter?"
"I can't very well get you a birthday present if you're with me."
She looked up at him sharply. "You don't need to do that, Harry. You shouldn't spend your money on me." He smiled gently down at her, bringing his free hand up to rest on her cheek.
"I can think of nothing better to spend my money on. But that doesn't matter. I don't plan on spending any money today."
"No money?" He shook his head. "Okay. You'll be careful, right?"
"And you'll wear a glamour?"
"If you want."
"It would help me worry less."
"Then how do you think I'll look as a blond?"
Before she could answer their tête-à-tête was interrupted by the entrance of Molly Weasley. Upon seeing her daughter standing with Harry's arms around her Molly's eyebrows shot up in surprise, but she didn't say anything.
"Morning, Mrs. Weasley." Harry greeted her without releasing Ginny.
"Good morning, Harry. What are you up to today?"
Molly watched as Harry winked down at Ginny, then squeezed her tightly to him. "I fancy a walk."
"Well, have fun, dear."
As Molly looked on with a bemused expression, Harry left the kitchen with Ginny's eyes following him until he was through the door. Ginny then turned to look at her mum, blushing when she found Molly already looking at her.
"Is there something you would like to tell me, Ginny dear?"
"What do you mean, Mum?"
"Seems you two were awfully close there. Has Harry finally come to his senses about you?"
"I think so."
"Well dear, has he said anything?"
"He said he fancied me yesterday, and he mentioned something about making sure Ron was okay with it. But he hasn't really done anything." She huffed with annoyance. "It's so frustrating."
"Well, dear. It certainly seems like he knows what he wants. Perhaps he just wants to take things slowly."
"Oh, I know he does. It took him two months to determine he liked me, despite some rather obvious hints. His letters were so funny!"
"Letters? Ginny, Professor Dumbledore asked you not to owl Harry this summer."
Ginny's eyes went wide as she realized her slip. "Um, we found another way to write. I didn't owl him, I promise."
Molly looked at her daughter carefully, then purposefully moved on. Sometimes it was simply better not to ask. "Do you know what it is that is making him so cautious?" Ginny nodded.
"Harry has… issues with relationships. It took awhile for me to convince him that it wasn't his fault that Sirius died. And Harry is hesitant about letting people close to him. Even Ron and Hermione are closed off from parts of his life."
"How do you know that, dear?"
"He told me so, mum."
"Seems he trusts you with a lot, then dear."
"Yes, but it was ridiculously hard to get to this point, Mum. And some of it was more circumstance than his choice. I'm pretty sure he trusts me now, though, with everything."
"Then what seems to be holding him back."
"He seems to have a hard time accepting that he deserves happiness just like everyone else does. He's never been truly happy in his life, and he seems to think he doesn't have any right to be." Ginny paused. "But mostly right now I think he's hesitant because of Dean."
"He knows that you and Dean aren't together anymore, right?"
"Yes, he knows. But he was the one who helped me when Dean sent his letter, so he saw how upset I was and I think he's trying to give me space to get over it."
"Well, that's very sweet of him."
"Oh, I know it is, Mum. Only I don't need time to get over it. I never really cared for Dean in the first place. I wasn't really upset that I lost Dean, more how it happened. Only I don't think Harry realizes that."
"Well, then. I suggest you let him know how you feel."
Ginny beamed. "I think I will."
Harry sauntered into the back door of the Burrow in the late afternoon. No sooner was he in the door than he was engulfed by Mrs. Weasley in a tight hug.
"Harry James Potter! Where have you been? I've been worried sick! I almost flooed Professor Dumbledore."
Harry's jaw clenched, but he quickly hid his reaction. "Sorry for worrying you, Mrs. Weasley. I just fell asleep in the woods. There's no reason to bother the Professor. He has made it perfectly clear where the boundaries are on my life."
Only Ginny heard the sarcasm. Which was perhaps a good thing.
"Very well, dear. But you really shouldn't be wandering off on your own."
"Of course, Mrs. Weasley. I promise that I'll take Ron or Ginny with me from now on if I feel like a walk." He turned to look at Ginny. "I had some things to think about today, and wanted to be alone."
Molly Weasley did not miss the direction of Harry's eyes, nor the allusion to what he was thinking about, and she wholeheartedly approved. "I understand, Harry dear."
Molly bustled back into the kitchen, leaving Harry and Ginny alone in the room. Harry plopped down on the couch beside her. "Merlin, I'm tired." He rested his head back against the couch and closed his eyes.
"Didn't you have a productive nap, Harry?"
"Oh, it was most productive."
"Want to show me what the outcome was?"
"Now Gin, you know I'm not going to do that. It would ruin the surprise."
Harry's eyes were still closed, so he had no notice before Ginny plopped down in his lap. His eyes shot open in surprise. "Gin?" he started hesitantly, "What are you doing?"
She looked down at him with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. She looped one arm around his neck and placed the other hand lightly on his chest. His breath hitched as his eyes shot down to look at it there. "I'm going to see if I can convince you to tell me what you got me." Harry visibly gulped. She lowered her eyes from his and watched as she idly traced patterns on his chest. As his breathing sped up he slowly placed both arms around her waist.
"Gin, you're killing me, here." His voice sounded strained.
"Well, that's the idea."
"I had better be able to see all four hands at all times, mate." Harry's head shot up to see Ron standing in the doorway and smirking at him. "And no snogging where I can see you." Harry flushed crimson. In an effort to hide this he buried his face in Ginny's shoulder.
"Ron! I was just about to get him to tell me what my birthday present is!" Ginny complained.
"What can I say, it's a gift. Now get off Harry, Ginny. I don't need to see that kind of stuff."
Harry groaned and tightened his hold on Ginny. "Please tell me the last few minutes were all in my imagination," he said quietly to her.
"Sorry, Harry. But it could have been worse. It could have been Fred and George who walked in on us instead."
He groaned again. "I'm a dead man."
"Don't worry, Harry. You haven't done anything worthy of death. After all, you haven't kissed me or even asked me out yet."
Harry raised his head and gave her a half smile. The smile slid off his face at Ron's next comment.
"Harry, what business do you have touching my sister without asking her out first? What are you waiting for?"
"Yeah, Harry," Ginny chimed in. "What are you waiting for?"
Harry simply ran his hands through his hair in frustration.
Ginny woke up on the morning of her fifteenth birthday with a large smile on her face. She languidly stretched and sat up.
"Mistress is awake!" Dobby greeted as he popped into existence. "Dobby wishes Mistress a happy birthday!"
"Thank you, Dobby." Dobby ducked his head as he presented her with a wrapped package. "Is this for me, Dobby?"
"Yes, Mistress. Dobby hopes yous likes your present."
Ginny beamed at him as she tore the paper off. Inside she found a lumpy pair of homemade socks. One was vibrant green and one was lavender, but both were patterned with large red hearts. "Thank you, Dobby, they are lovely."
"Mistress has Master Harry's heart. Now she has Dobby's too."
Instead of answering Ginny kneeled on the floor and drew the startled elf into a hug. Dobby smiled with pleasure and blinked back the tears in his large eyes. He disappeared with a pop, spluttering and nearly incoherent mess. Ginny laughed as she pulled the socks on, then threw open her door.
Harry was leaning against the opposite wall, smiling shyly at her.
"Happy birthday, Gin." His eyes darted down to her colorful socks. "I see Dobby has already stopped by." Harry pulled out his Gryffindor wand. With a quick twirl he pulled a white calla lily out of thin air. He offered it to her with a smile. Ginny took it with a slight blush.
"Thank you, Harry." She took his hand and pulled him into her room. "Can you make me a vase for it?"
He twisted his wand and handed her a thin, delicate glass vase. Ginny placed the flower on the corner of her desk and touched the petals softly. "It has an everlasting charm on it. I didn't want it to fade quickly."
Ginny smiled at him before throwing her arms around his neck and whispering her thanks against his chest.
It was a very long time before Harry let her go.
When Harry and Ginny finally made it into the kitchen, they were greeted by Mrs. Weasley as well as five of the six Weasley brothers. Harry tried to ignore the way that Fred and George were smiling at him (that smile had never boded well before) and the way that Bill and Charlie were glaring at him. He supposed that it hadn't escaped their notice that he had spent the last while behind a closed door with their little sister. But he tried to ignore these looks, as he didn't want to ruin Ginny's birthday.
"Happy birthday, Ginny dear!" Mrs. Weasley exclaimed as she enveloped her youngest in a tight hug. "Why don't you sit down and open your presents while I get your breakfast ready."
Ginny beamed in pleasure and sat down in her chair at the table. She hastily pulled a present to her and tore the paper off. In the next several minutes Ginny unwrapped a new pair of dragon hide chaser pads from Charlie, a large box of chocolate from Ron, a homework planner from Hermione, a book on the Holyhead Harpies from Bill, a large box of prank items (which Mrs. Weasley glared at) from the twins, and several articles of clothing and accessories from her parents. The last present left on the table was a small thin box tied with a brilliant gold and scarlet ribbon. There was no note attached, but Ginny knew who it was from when Harry ducked his head to hide his blush as she picked it up. She carefully untied the ribbon and lifted the lid of the box. Then she let out a startled gasp.
"What did you get…" Fred began
"Our darling sister, Gin?" his twin finished.
Ginny pulled out a delicate necklace from the box. On a fine gold chain hung two stones that were twisted together in an elaborate Celtic knot. One was a fiery ruby and the other was a brilliant emerald. Ginny showed the necklace to her curious brothers, still without uttering a word.
"Gin…" Bill began hesitantly, "that's a love knot." She looked up sharply, her eyes wide. "Was there a note? Did it say who it was from?"
Ginny shook her head.
"Wait, there's a note in the bottom of the box," Ron said.
He moved to read it, but Ginny pulled it out of his hand and smacked him on the back of his head. Harry hadn't signed his own name, allowing her anonymity if she so chose, but there was no doubt in her mind who it was from.
For the girl who is my own ruby, from the boy who will forever be her own emeralds.
Silent tears traced down Ginny's cheeks as she ran her fingers reverently along the design. Blinking back her tears she raised her eyes until she met Harry's gaze.
"Did you mean it?" she asked quietly.
Harry ignored Bill's startled gasp, and whispered "yes."
Ginny beamed at him, her eyes wide and sparkling behind the tears. She got up slowly and walked purposely around the table towards him. When she reached him she fisted her hand in his shirt and pulled him out of his chair until he stood in front of her, then she used her hold to drag his mouth down to hers.
Harry hadn't imagined that their first kiss would be in front of her mother and most of her brothers. He hadn't even planned on kissing her that day. But he was not one to deny her. Immediately, one arm came up and wrapped around her waist, pulling her tightly against his chest. The other hand buried itself in her thick hair as he anchored her against him. This was nothing like his disastrous kiss with Cho. That had been wet and awkward, and a large part of him found no enjoyment in it whatsoever. This kiss was the complete opposite. It was desperate and greedy and passionate, but it was also loving and caring and perfect. Ginny brought her hands up and buried them in his messy hair, and she let out a moan of pleasure against his lips. They would have happily continued in this vain for the next several hours, but a large hand came down and clapped Harry on the shoulder.
"I think that's about enough for now." Bill did not sound happy.
Harry pulled away from Ginny with great reluctance. He opened his eyes and looked down at her, only to meet her chocolate brown eyes that were filled with so much emotion it nearly overwhelmed him. He brought his hand around and gently cupped her cheek. There was so much he wanted to say to her, but he wasn't oblivious to the fact that they were surrounded by her family, particularly a glaring Bill. His first inclination was to leave the conversation until later, but then he looked back down at Ginny and he couldn't let her go without letting her know how he felt. Trying to be surreptitious about it, he touched his hand to his concealed wand and whispered a spell that would block his words from her family.
"I love you, Gin." Her smile was blinding. "Say that you'll be mine."
"I always have been, Harry."
He lowered his mouth once more to hers.
Neither Harry nor Ginny noticed Bill's exclamation of protest, or Mrs. Weasley's admonition to leave them alone.
Mindful of their audience, Harry pulled back much earlier than he would have liked. "I think I've endangered my life enough for one day. Your brothers are already going to slaughter me."
"Pity. You didn't give me the chance to return your sentiments."
"We'll have plenty of time."
"We'd better, Potter."
Returning to the world, Harry lowered his ward around them, then he slowly turned to face her family. Bill looked ready to explode, but Harry held up a hand to stall him.
"I realize that I should have planned that better so that we weren't surrounded by the family, but I wasn't exactly planning on this today. But it doesn't change how I feel about Ginny. I love her and nothing you say can change that or keep me away from her."
"The hell it can't!" Bill exploded. "She's just a child and she doesn't need to be involved in all the trouble that follows you around."
"Bill!" Mrs. Weasley exclaimed.
"She already is involved. She may not be old enough to completely control her own life, but it certainly isn't in your control. I've already spoken with your father about how I feel about her. He gave me his blessing to see her."
"It's not safe! You can't protect her!"
Harry practically growled. "Try me."
"Fine. Outside. Now."
"Boys! This isn't appropriate!" Mrs. Weasley exclaimed.
"It's alright, Mrs. Weasley. Let me prove to him that I can protect Ginny, even though she's strong enough to protect herself." Harry's resolve was firm. He almost preferred revealing his new abilities in this manner.
"But Harry! You're underage!"
"I'm not going to get in trouble."
Harry didn't give her another opportunity to argue, he followed an irate Bill out into the garden, the whole family trailing after them. Ginny wasn't worried. Despite the fact that Bill was the best fighter in her family she knew that Harry could take him. The only part that concerned her was that this might expose Harry's secret. There would be no way around the fact that he was using magic that was somehow untraceable by the Ministry. But Harry clearly thought it would be alright. And truthfully, he wasn't going to be able to keep it a secret much longer.
Harry hadn't even pulled his wand when Bill attacked, but his shield was up before the spell hit, and he was already sending back a spell before Bill realized what was happening. The next few minutes were filled with a wild range of spellfire as Harry and Bill fought back and forth. Mrs. Weasley was a nervous wreck the whole time, calling to the two boys to stop their fight and nearly sobbing with hysteria. Ron and the twins were watching with incredulous expressions. They all had seen Harry fight fairly recently and this was nothing like that. Charlie remained stoically watching, determined to step in if needed. He was nearly as unhappy with the idea of Harry dating Ginny as Bill was.
"Oi! Where did Harry learn to fight like that?" Ron demanded indignantly.
"What do you think he spent the whole summer doing, Ron, chatting it up with the Dursleys?" Ginny asked him, her eyes not leaving Harry.
"But how could he? He's still underage." George asked.
Ginny looked at them. "That, my dear brothers, is Harry's secret to tell."
"But you know?" Fred asked.
"Yes. I know."
"And just how long have you known about this, Ginevra?" Molly asked furiously.
"Since the beginning. Everyone was so concerned about protecting Harry they failed to realize that he could protect himself better than anyone else could. He finally had enough and did something about it himself, and this is the result."
Four very shocked Weasleys stared back at her, Charlie continued to watch the fight, and in the garden the spells were unrelenting in their exchange.
Both Harry and Bill were starting to tire, but Bill was declining much faster. The arguing spectators had just turned back to watch them when Harry decided he had demonstrated enough. He shot out his left hand and didn't even flinch when a large ruby encrusted sword appeared in it. Only Ginny recognized it, as it had once been used to save her life. With a flourish Harry had both his wand and the sword trained directly at Bill's chest.
"Do you concede?" He asked, his voice perfectly level and calm.
Bill nodded, his breathing labored. But he willingly shook Harry's hand, respect evident in his eyes. "Where did you learn to fight like that?"
"Books." Harry deadpanned.
Bill looked at him curiously. "Are we to be expecting a frantic owl from the Ministry any time soon?"
"No. They will not have detected any of that."
"And how, may I ask, did you accomplish that?" Charlie asked.
Harry just smirked. "You can ask all you want." Fred and George chuckled in the background. "So, did I pass your test?" he turned back to Bill.
"I suppose." Bill eyed the sword that Harry still held. "Where did the sword come from?"
"It comes when it is needed. I'll just send it back now." With a wave of his wand, Gryffindor's sword vanished back to its case in Dumbledore's office. The Professor never noticed its absence, as he was currently out of his office. But the scarlet and gold phoenix had trilled happily when the sword had vanished.
"Harry! When are you going to teach me to fight like that?" Ron interrupted eagerly.
"I have to keep some tricks for myself, Ron."
"But Harry," Ron wheedled, "you always show me everything."
Harry turned to his friend with a fierce look on his face. "And I also always manage to get those I care about hurt. Things are going to be different from now on. I refuse to go into this fight blind and unprepared."
"Harry!" Mrs. Weasley engulfed him in a bone crushing hug. "You shouldn't be worrying about these things. There is no need for you to be fighting like that. It is so dangerous!"
Harry gently removed himself from her arms. "I appreciate your concern, Mrs. Weasley, but I disagree. I don't have a choice whether I fight. Dumbledore explained some things at the end of last term that drastically changed my outlook on life, and I have acted accordingly."
"I will fight to protect those I love, Mrs. Weasley." His voice was firm and left no room for questioning.
She nodded with tears in her eyes as she pulled him in to another hug. But Harry new this fight was far from over. Today had been a friendly fight with no real chance of him getting hurt. Everything would change when he went up against his real enemy.
Ginny, unable to hold back any longer, threw herself at Harry. He had been expecting something like this, so he was able to remain upright as he caught her, only taking two steps back to steady himself. She instantly pulled his head down and kissed him.
Harry didn't complain.
Harry was expecting it, so he didn't show any surprise when Professor Dumbledore stepped out of the floo that afternoon. He knew when he had suggested the fight this morning that Dumbledore would be coming around to question him. And he was prepared for the confrontation. He had spent several happy hours with Ginny outside, simply sitting against a tree with her pulled tight against his chest. Most of the time they hadn't even talked, content to simply be with each other. Her presence had calmed and centered him, so when the piercing blue eyes of his once mentor settled on him he was ready.
"Good afternoon, Professor." There was a coolness to his voice that did not escape Dumbledore's notice.
"Harry." The elder wizard nodded in greeting. "I heard that you had an eventful day today. Am I to understand you intend to pursue a relationship with Miss Weasley?"
Harry was slightly shocked that this was where the questioning began. He did not see how his relationship with Ginny made any difference to the headmaster. "Yes, sir," he replied blandly. He did not want to give anything away until he knew where this was going.
Dumbledore looked at him carefully. He could not allow this to continue. Miss Weasley was dangerous and not appropriate for Harry. Thankfully it looked as if the boy did not have a terribly strong attachment to her. The mild love potion should take care of the problem. "Why don't we have some tea while we discuss some things?"
Harry nodded in acceptance and sat down at the table. Dumbledore twirled his wand until two cups of steaming tea appeared. The elder wizard sipped his and waited for Harry to take a drink before he continued. "I also understand that you fought a duel with Bill Weasley and soundly beat him." Harry only nodded in acknowledgement. "Would you care to explain how it is that you were able to do so, let alone how you kept your use of magic from the attention of the Ministry?"
Harry did not answer beyond a simple shrug. Not used to being daunted, Dumbledore looked at him carefully. To his knowledge, Harry never really had mastered the art of Occlumency, thus it was with great shock that he discovered that the boy had shields. As he pushed further he was startled to realize that they were made of solid steal, and were utterly impenetrable. As he pulled back out of Harry's mind he became uncomfortably aware of the fact that his mental intrusion could not possibly have gone unnoticed. Indeed, Harry was staring at him with barely suppressed fury. He would have to salvage the situation.
"I see you have managed to master Occlumency. This is very good." Dumbledore infused his words with grandfatherly like care, as if he were merely concerned with Harry's vulnerability to Voldemort.
"Yes," Harry said through gritted teeth. "No one will ever have access to my mind again."
"My dear boy, walls alone would not keep out Voldemort for long, though yours seem admirable."
Harry merely looked at him. "You are assuming that the walls are the only things I have."
Dumbledore was completely startled. Somehow in the last few months Harry had changed from the young boy he had guided for the past few years to a young man who would not bend to the destiny he was so carefully preparing him for. This concerned him. He needed answers on why this was happening.
"Could I examine your wand, Harry?"
Harry smirked at him before pulling his holly wand out of his pocket and handing it over. Dumbledore waved his own wand over it for several minutes and was quite confused to discover that not only was the Ministry tracking spell still active, but the wand in question had not performed magic in several months. And yet the boy was casting spells only this morning. It made no sense to Dumbledore.
"You used your own wand this morning, Harry?"
"I used my wand, yes."
"And you did not cast some spell to mask the tracking spell before leaving school?"
"No. I was unaware that there was such a spell."
Dumbledore furrowed his brows in confusion. This was not making sense.
"When did you find time to practice?"
"Well, I was bored this summer."
"You practiced with the Dursleys? But I have magic monitors on Privet Drive and they detected nothing."
Harry only allowed mild curiosity on his face. "Really? How odd."
Dumbledore was getting increasingly frustrated. He wanted answers. Perhaps he was questioning the wrong person. "Shall we invite your friends Mr. and Miss Weasley in for a cup of tea?"
Harry recognized that this was not really a request, but he complied without question. He was confident in his ability to protect Ginny, and Ron knew nothing incriminating. It wasn't long before they both came into the kitchen, Ron looking curious and Ginny guarded.
"Good evening," Dumbledore greeted them. "I wonder if I might have a few moments of your time?"
Ron and Ginny both nodded their acceptance and sat down. Ginny took Harry's hand in hers, and was relieved to see that he looked calm and collected. Dumbledore proceeded to question Ron about his summer activities, but Harry was not fooled. The old man was merely using it as a cover to access his memories. Unfortunately for him, he found nothing that gave him the answers he wanted. It was then he turned to Ginny.
"I see congratulations are in order, Miss Weasley," Dumbledore began, gesturing towards where her hand lay entwined with Harry's. "May I ask when this happened?"
"Only this morning, Professor."
Dumbledore looked at her carefully. Her mind appeared to have only mild natural defenses. He stepped into it and began looking around.
It was then that he was forcibly ejected.
When he regained his bearings, he was somewhat disconcerted to realize that Harry was standing over him, wand leveled directly at his heart.
"You will not do that again." The boy's voice was cold and detached. And powerful, very powerful. "Ginny's mind is not as unguarded as you may think, and I intent to help her make it even stronger. But if I ever hear of you trying to enter it again you will live to rue the day you were born." Dumbledore stared up at him in shock. "Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, perfectly so. I see that I have overstayed my welcome." He picked himself up off the floor. "I wish you all a happy end to your holidays."
Harry's wand remained trained on him until the fire swallowed him up.
It had been well over a week since the last time Harry was woken by a nightmare, but that night Ron woke up to find him tossing and turning in his sleep, muttering denials under his breath. Somewhat concerned for his friend, particularly after the rather unusual day they had had, Ron hastily shook him awake.
"What?" Harry shot up, looking around wildly. When his gaze rested on Ron he calmed down noticeably. "Where is Ginny? Is she alright? Something isn't right."
"She's asleep, mate," Ron responded, confused. "And I'm sure she is fine."
"We need to go check." Harry said instantly, springing out of bed. "Something isn't right."
Worried, Ron followed Harry down the stairs until they were outside of Ginny's room. Harry pushed the door open carefully, only to breathe a sigh of relief when he saw her sleeping peacefully in her room. Then he got the oddest look on his face as he watched her. Without taking his eyes of Ginny, he whispered to Ron. "Get Hermione here now. I'm going to wake Ginny up. Something isn't right."
"But… it's the middle of the night, mate."
Not liking the look on Harry's face, Ron didn't question him anymore. He ran down to the kitchen and threw in a handful of floo powder. As he tumbled into Hermione's living room, he was glad he had been there to pick her up last year as it allowed him to find his way to her room. But there he paused. It was one thing to enter Ginny's room uninvited in the middle of the night. She was his sister. But Hermione was a different story. So instead he knocked. When there was no answer he knocked louder and called as loudly as he dared, "Hermione! Open up!"
She came to the door in her dressing gown, rubbing sleep out of her eyes. But when she found Ron on the other side she was instantly alert. "Ron! What is wrong?"
"You have to come with me to the Burrow. Harry woke up frantic about Ginny. He just kept on saying 'something isn't right' over and over again. I need your help."
Without waiting for more of an explanation Hermione dashed to her bedside table, scooped up her wand, and threw on her shoes before quickly following Ron back down the stairs and through the floo. Then they quickly made their way up the stairs and into Ginny's room where they found Harry sitting on the bed, his arms wrapped tightly around a thoroughly confused Ginny.
"Harry?" Hermione asked gently. "What is wrong?"
Harry raised his head and looked up at her, his eyes slightly frantic. "Mione, thank Merlin you're here! Something isn't right. You have to help me." Ginny looked up at him with a worried expression as he clenched her to him even tighter. His breathing was erratic and his eyes kept darting down to look at her as if proving to himself that she was, indeed, there in his arms.
Hermione shot a worried look at Ron, then turned back to the couple on the bed. "Tell me what is going on." She kept her tone calm and quiet, hoping to bring Harry back from his panic.
"I had this horrible nightmare," Harry began quietly, "and then when I woke up everything was different."
"Different? What do you mean?" She prodded carefully, noticing the way that Harry's panic all seemed centered on the girl in his arms.
"You know when you like someone you are almost always thinking about them? How some part of your brain is always focused on them?" Hermione nodded, confusion on her face. "It's been like that for me with Ginny for awhile now." Hermione chose to ignore the blush that suddenly spread across both Harry and Ginny's faces. "Then I woke up and it was gone. And I tried to remember how I feel about her and it just isn't there. I know I like her, and I remember how I felt, but now it feels like there is something there keeping me from getting to it." His arms clenched around Ginny who was looking up at him with wide eyes. "And even worse, why in the world am I suddenly thinking about bloody Cho Chang!"
Ginny abruptly pulled herself out of Harry's embrace. "What!"
Nearly frantic, Harry turned to her. "I don't have feelings for her, Gin, I swear I don't. I don't even like thinking about her. But something is making me."
Ginny looked at him doubtfully, but Hermione cleared her throat, calling their attention back to her. "Harry? When you liked Cho last year, was it the same kind of feeling. Like one day you weren't thinking about her and then the next you were and you didn't know why and almost didn't want to be?"
"Yes…" he responded, hesitantly. "Mione, what is wrong with me?"
In her usual obtuse manner Hermione asked, "Harry? What did you have to drink today?"
Harry looked at her with blank confusion, but Ginny suddenly sat up and hissed in anger. "He bloody well better not have!"
Thinking her anger was directed at him, Harry turned around, apology written on his face. "I didn't mean to, Gin. I'm so sorry!" Hermione had never seen him so upset, and it startled her to see him like this. It also made her realize that his feelings for Ginny might be a little deeper than she had thought. The fact that he was aware enough to know something was wrong, and that he was willing to fight it, made her think that maybe there was something deeper going on here than just a normal teenage romance.
Ginny frantically shook her head. "Not you, Harry. You didn't do anything wrong." Harry sagged in relief at her words. "Dumbledore spiked your tea today." Harry looked down at her confused, obviously not understanding the connection.
"Professor Dumbledore did this!" Hermione practically screeched. "Why would he do something like this?"
"Will someone please explain what is going on?" Ron interrupted, clearly exasperated. He was used to Hermione not explaining things to him, but his patience was wearing thin.
Hermione turned to him. "It appears that Harry has been under the influence of a mild love potion. And he probably has been for some time."
"What!" Harry stood up, his fists clenched in anger.
"But why in Merlin's name would Dumbledore give Harry a love potion. Why would he care who Harry likes?" Ron asked.
"Harry," Ginny said softly, "do you think he might have been trying to prevent you from being close to anyone?"
Hermione had no idea what Ginny was asking about, but Harry seemed to understand. His eyes lit up and his jaw clenched. "That bloody bastard!"
"Oh, he deserves it, Hermione." Harry paced the room, seething. "He knew exactly what he was doing. He was trying to keep me from falling in love with Ginny because he saw her as a threat to his perfect plan."
"Will someone please explain what is going on?" Ron whined.
Ginny stood up and laid a calming hand on Harry, pausing his relentless pacing. Harry took a deep breath and looked up at his two best friends. "At the end of last term Dumbledore showed me the prophecy that Voldemort was after. It said that I was the only one with the power to vanquish Voldemort, and that I would have a power he knows not."
"Oh, Harry!" Hermione cried. Tears were running down her face, and she had unknowingly clenched Ron's hand in her own. Ron saw no reason to point this out to her.
"I found out later that Dumbledore only showed me the first part of the prophecy. He kept it from me in an effort to insert himself in the role as my guide and confident. A role that was never meant for him. And he has been feeding me love potion, probably for years, to keep me from finding the prophesied guide that would help me to defeat Voldemort."
"So who is this guide, then?" Ron asked.
"Ginny." Hermione breathed. Harry only nodded in acknowledgement.
A/N: This took a little longer than I would have liked for several reasons. One is that I am bound and determined to keep the chapters longer for you. The other is that I started another story. I know… But this one is completely different. I decided to try my hand at writing a Twilight story. I will still be updating this and War Against Voldemort, though. And as soon as I can think of a decent name the Twilight story will go up.
There will be no horcruxes or hallows in this story. With the possible exception of the one inside Harry (I really haven't decided about that one yet).
We got some answers in this chapter, but more are coming. Particularly what is going on with Dobby… He he…
"Hermione, please tell me the potion is almost ready." Harry was pacing in Ginny's room as Hermione furiously stirred the cauldron in front of her. He had been doing so for the past two hours as Hermione had been carefully working.
"Harry, I am not going to rush this. I don't even know what potion he slipped you and I don't want to do anything to make the situation worse. The antidote should be ready in about half an hour." She didn't even look up at him as she answered, keeping her attention on the slowly simmering cauldron.
"Calm down, mate." Ron put a hand on Harry's shoulder, bringing him to a stop. "It's not like we are going to let you run into Cho or anything. And you know what is going. It will wear off soon enough anyways."
"I don't want to wait for it to wear off, Ron, as we have no idea how long that could take. Nothing is right and I need it to be fixed." Harry stared anxiously at Ginny. "I don't like any part of me being under someone else's control. Particularly his. And not having the thought of Ginny inside of me… it makes me feel weak. I need her there." Ginny beamed at him, earning a tight smile in return.
"I'm still having trouble believing that Dumbledore would do this to you, Harry." Hermione said carefully. "Why would he keep you from liking Ginny only to force you to like Cho? Wouldn't it make more sense for him to keep you from liking anyone at all? Then he wouldn't risk anyone stepping into this position of guide that you are talking about. You said this guide would be someone who loves you. Wouldn't it make more sense to isolate you so that no one could love you?"
"I think Dumbledore realizes that even if he forced Harry to like Cho it would never get serious," Ginny answered. "Harry would never have fallen in love with Cho. And that was what Dumbledore was worried about. Perhaps he thought that it would be easier to redirect his feelings than to try and suppress them completely. Plus, we think he was particularly worried about me because he knows that Harry was already inclined to help me and it has been fairly obvious how I've felt about Harry for the last several years."
"I've been thinking about this potion he has me on. The first time I remember noticing Cho was at the beginning of my third year, which was just after I saved Ginny from the Chamber. He was probably worried that she and I would get closer as a result."
"And you said that the prophecy specifically mentioned that you will need a guide, and a guide that loved you?" Hermione asked once again.
"Yes. And I'm pretty sure that Dumbledore has been trying to ensure that he is that guide. Unfortunately, he is not. And he has no clue what my power is, so how he honestly thought he could guide me is insane."
"So, um… what is your power?" Ron asked.
"You remember my fight with Bill this morning?" Ron nodded. "Notice how I never got a notice from the ministry about underage magic?"
"Not to mention the fact that he was able to actually beat Bill. Soundly, I might add." Ginny put in. Harry smiled at her sheepishly and she beamed at him in response. Harry's humility was one of her favorite things about him. How he could be so powerful and yet think so little of himself frankly baffled her.
"So, are you going to tell us how you were able to do it?" Ron wheedled.
"No. I'm not."
"Harry!" Hermione looked up from her cauldron.
"I'm protecting you, Hermione. It is too easy for someone to learn the information I have right out of your mind. I can protect Ginny, but I can't protect all of you at once."
"And the prophecy specifically said that his power would remain secret until the very end." Ginny added. "We don't want to unintentionally start anything before we are ready to deal with it."
Hermione huffed in frustration, but gave up her argument. She carefully filled a goblet with potion and handed it to Harry. "This should do the trick."
Eagerly, Harry downed the entire thing. He shuddered visibly for a moment then breathed a sigh of relief. He looked up at Ginny and grinned at her before pulling her quickly into his arms and planting his mouth firmly on hers.
"Hey!" Ron protested. "I don't want to see that!"
Harry pulled away smirking. "Sorry, mate. Had to make sure the potion worked and all."
"Sure you did, Harry." Hermione was rolling her eyes at him, but he ignored this. "I'm going to bottle the rest of this, just in case he is able to slip you some more potion."
"You think he'll try again?" Ginny asked from the confines of Harry's arms.
"Given his track record, I would say it is inevitable." Hermione answered as she handed Harry several vials full of potion. "We should probably try and find a way to either test for love potions or a way to make you immune to them."
Ginny looked intently at Hermione for several minutes. "Do you remember that spell you showed me last year, the Lover's Protection Spell?"
"Yes. But everything I read about said that no one had been able to get it to work for over a thousand years."
"I think I have a way around that. Do you remember the incantation?"
"Yes. Verus diligo mos servo."
"Harry? Can I borrow your wand?" She looked at him intently, and he nodded his head before pulling out Godric's wand and handing it to her. She pointed it directly at his heart and murmured, "Verus diligo mos servo." A stream of vibrant red shot out of the wand and enveloped Harry for several seconds before dying away. Harry shivered under the spell and stared intently at Ginny. The spell had engulfed him in her love, and it was a heady feeling.
"Ginny! You're going to get in trouble with the Ministry!" Ron exclaimed.
"No she won't," Hermione said softly. "Harry? Where did you get a second wand?"
"Second wand? What are you talking about?" Ron asked.
"That isn't Harry's wand. His wand is made of holly and doesn't have carvings on it."
"She's right," Harry said softly, pulling his attention away from Ginny's eyes. "I still have my holly wand, and I'll still use it at school. This one I… acquired from another source. It is untraceable."
"That's how you didn't get in trouble for fighting with Bill." Hermione said excitedly. "But how did you get an untraceable wand."
"I can't tell you that, Hermione."
"What's with all these bloody secrets? You use to tell us everything." Ron complained.
"Believe me," Ginny spoke up, "this is one secret you don't want to know about. The consequences of Harry telling you about that wand would be particularly… bloody and unpleasant. There is an enchantment on it that prevents him from revealing anything about it."
"Then how come you know about it?"
"Um…" Harry answered this time, "We haven't quite figured that out yet. For some reason the usual rules don't seem to apply to Ginny. For instance, no one but me should be able to use that wand and yet we just saw Ginny use it."
"Okay, so Harry can now do magic outside of school, and rather powerful magic at that." Hermione conceded. "But that doesn't explain how Ginny was able to pull off that spell."
"She's just special like that," Harry said proudly.
"Someone want to tell me what exactly this spell did?" Ron grumbled.
"She cast a lovers protection," Hermione began, "that will protect him from anything that might intentionally come in the way of that love."
"Such as a love potion?" Ron asked.
"Precisely. The spell literally means my love with protect. My love basically formed a shield around Harry." Ginny beamed.
Ron stared at his sister in shock. "But in order to cast that spell you would have to..."
"Love Harry and know that he was the love of my life? Yes, I would."
Harry tugged hard on Ginny's hand as he pulled her behind him. He was making fast for the edge of the forest and not paying any attention to her spluttering and questions. He was a man on a mission. When he reached the forest he slowed down minimally so that he could weave through the trees. It wasn't until he spotted a suitably large tree that he came to a rather abrupt halt and pushed Ginny aggressively against the far side of it.
"Harry!" She looked up at him with startled eyes, her fingers curling into his arms. "What has gotten in to you?"
"I just found out that you love me just as much as I love you, and I'm rather thrilled by this. Plus, I've spent the last twenty-four hours kicking myself over not giving you a proper first kiss. I intend to rectify that right now." He was looking down at her with dark eyes.
"Oh." Her breath hitched in anticipation.
Without any warning, Harry crashed his lips to hers as he wrapped one arm tightly around her waist and sandwiched her tightly between his hard body and the tree behind them. His free hand tangled its way into her fiery locks. He let her up for a few short pants of air before returning to feasting on her lips. Then he pushed his tongue against her, demanding entrance. She did not deny him. She matched him stroke for stroke, and they became intimately familiar with each other's mouths. Reluctantly, Harry tore his mouth away from hers so that he could draw in a gasping breathe, but almost immediately he was back for more. He simply could not get enough of her, and based on the way she was responding to him she felt the same. It was several long minutes later when his fervor died down and he pulled back slightly to rest his forehead against hers. His breathing was ragged and his eyes were still dark with desire.
"I love you, Gin."
"And I you."
He placed his hands on either side of her face. "I never thought I could feel like this. My whole life, all I've wanted has been someone to love who actually would love me back. Thank you for giving me that."
In response, she laced her fingers into his hair and pulled him down to her willing mouth.
"Harry! The OWL results are here!"
Ron's voice pulled him out of the book he was reading. He was quite fascinated by some of the spells it contained. Harry had found the book in a trunk of things that belonged to his parents, and it was handwritten. Based on comparison with the letters he had, he was fairly confident it had been written by his mother. There was also the fact that it contained mostly charms, and Harry knew she had been particularly skilled in that area. The spells it contained were ingenious, and produced many interesting results. Harry knew it could be very useful to learn them.
Marking his place, he set the book aside and hurried down the stairs. He had been expecting his results, and was quite anxious to see them. Interestingly enough, the one that he had been most concerned about no longer worried him. He was fairly certain he had not received an O in potions, and he was okay with that. His recently disillusionment with the Headmaster had bled over into other areas, and he was not longer quite as enthusiastic about becoming an Auror. He had been thinking that it would be nice to do something that didn't constantly revolving around fighting. Ginny had been quite supported of his decision. She had told him the other day that anything that kept him safer was fine with her.
Harry entered the kitchen to find Ron staring at a letter in his hand, his face devoid of color, while Mrs. Weasley looked on anxiously. Ginny was sitting at the table and she held a letter out to him as he came into view. Dropping a kiss on the top of her head he sat down beside her and tore into the letter. He slid the parchment open and breathed a sigh of relief.
Ordinary Wizarding Levels Results:
Harry James Potter has achieved:
Care of Magical Creatures: E
Defense Against the Dark Arts: O+
History of Magic: D
Mr. Potter's score in Defense Against the Dark Arts is the highest score in nearly 150 years. We offer our congratulations.
Harry beamed at the letter in his hand. He was quite happy with those marks. He passed the letter to Ginny who looked at it quickly before smiling at him.
"Congratulations, Harry. You did quite well."
"I'm sorry about your potions score."
Harry shrugged. "I'm not too upset about it. I think it is probably for the best that I no longer have a class with Snape." Harry turned to Ron. "How'd you do, Mate?"
Ron held out his letter and Harry took it. He had the same grades as Harry, except with an E in Defense. "Congratulations, Ron!"
"Thanks!" Ron looked shocked. "I can't believe I got seven OWLs."
"Seven! Oh, Ron." Mrs. Weasley enveloped him in a tight hug that had her son choking as he tried to breath. When she released him she rounded on Harry and hugged him fiercely, too. "You two boys did very well. You'll have to floo Hermione and ask how she did."
"No need to ask. She probably got an O in everything she took."
Harry smiled. "Probably."
It is my pleasure to inform you that the Goblin High Council has come to a decision regarding your offer. We are happy to offer our agreement of political neutrality in the fight that is coming. Many members of the Council were hesitant to provide any so called favors to humans that have never offered us the same courtesy. I hope you are able to provide ample evidence of your desire to achieve equal rights for all magical creatures. We pledge to not join forces, whether physically or monetarily, with the wizard styling himself Lord Voldemort. We will fight to protect our rights and our bank, however, from any hostile force. I have attached a list of names of those we believe to be monetarily supporting Voldemort's forces despite their profession of being light wizards. We leave dealing with them to your discretion.
In regards to the fund you requested, I am pleased to inform you that the Werewolf Relief Fund has been established with your generous donation. Several other donors have already come forward, and we are already receiving numerous requests for help from the fund. We have hired several Potions Masters who are already hard at work on brewing the potion. It should be ready for distribution prior to the full moon in two weeks time. We also sent a personal invitation to one Remus Lupin to use the fund. I would like to point out that it was your desire to help creatures that most of your world disdains that helped the Goblin Council reach its decision.
On a more personal note, I am pleased to offer my congratulations on your recent marriage with one Ginevra Molly Weasley. My apologies for not recognizing this earlier. We should have made provisions for your wife when you came to see us several weeks ago. Please inform Gringotts of any way that we may help your situation. At your convenience, please visit Gringotts so that she may be added to your vault access.
May your gold flow and your blade stay sharp,
Harry stared at the letter in his hand. It had been several blissfully uneventful days since the love potion incident, and Harry had been enjoying the peace and quiet. Then Dobby had left the letter for him that morning. Harry was quite excited to hear about the Goblin's compliance with his request, and the Werewolf Relief Fund. He had grand hopes that these two developments might dramatically help the war effort. And he fully intended to have Dobby leave the list provided for Dumbledore. Despite his current opinion of the Headmaster, the man was in a much better position to use this information than Harry himself. The last paragraph completely baffled him.
"Do you happen to know why Gornak is under the mistaken impression that I am married?"
"Because Master is married to Mistress."
"Dobby, I'm fairly certain I would have remembered my own wedding."
"Master did not have a wedding. Dobby served as witness to yous binding."
Harry stared at the usually excited elf that was standing solemnly in front of him. He didn't understand what was going on, but he realized that he probably would not on his own. "Do you think you can get Ginny for me?"
With a small crack, Dobby disappeared. It was less than a minute later that he reappeared with Ginny.
"Harry? What's going on?"
Harry cringed. "Well, it seems that Dobby thinks we are married. He was trying to explain it to me."
"What!" Ginny rounded on the elf. "What do you mean we are married?"
"Master and Mistress has been married for nearly two months."
Ginny seemed to have momentarily lost her power of speech, so Harry took up the questioning of the elf. "Dobby, why didn't you mention this sooner?"
"Master was not ready sooner. He needed to come to understand his own feelings. Dobby did not wish yous to feel pressured into something yous did not want. But Master now knows his feelings for Mistress. Yous is ready for the truth."
"And what truth would that be?"
"Master's new wand bound yous when you first received it. Dobby was asked to be witness."
"What do you mean it bound us?"
"Shortly after Master opened the box, Mistress and Master both held the wand together. It performed a powerful bonding charm. Dobby understands that some wizarding weddings use a lesser version of this bonding spell when theys wish for a more powerful marriage."
Ginny let out a gasp and sank down to sit on the bed. Harry eyed her carefully. He couldn't tell how she felt about this news. Truthfully, though he was surprised and shocked to learn he had been married for two months without realizing it, the news was not unwelcome. He was fairly confident that he would have married Ginny anyways, and he no longer could imagine his life without her soft comfort and guidance. Indeed, she seemed to have inserted herself in his life so thoroughly that he often wondered how lost he would have been without her.
"Gin?" He began tentatively. "Are you okay?"
Ginny looked up sharply to see the worry apparent in Harry's eyes. Her face softened. "Yes, Harry. I didn't mean to worry you, I was just shocked." She took a deep breath and turned towards the elf. "What does this bonding entail, Dobby?"
"It is equivalent to marriage, and recognized as such. This is why Gornak was interested. There's is more, but Dobby does not know. Wizard marriages that are sealed with a bonding charm ares very strong, Mistress. Dobby does not know what the magic does."
"Does marriage ensure majority rights, Dobby?"
"Yes, Master. Marriage is proof of age. Master and Mistress are exempt from underage restrictions now. But Dobby understands that theys can still trace yous magic. The trace placed on wands lasts until the wizard turns seventeen."
"So we can use magic, but not any that we don't want anyone to find out about?"
"Yes, Mistress. Dobby would thinks that yous would not like this information to get out. Thus it is probably best for Mistress to refrain from using magics unless she has to."
Ginny sighed dejectedly. "I suppose. Thank you for your help, Dobby. We'll call if we need anything."
Dobby bowed deeply to both and vanished with a crack.
Harry looked over at Ginny worriedly. "I didn't mean to trap you into marriage, Gin."
"You didn't trap me." She stood up determinedly and placed herself squarely in his lap. He wound his arms around her waist. "I love you and you love me. Now we just have a permanent reminder of that fact."
"You're not upset?"
"No. Are you?"
"Upset that I have the family I always wanted? Upset that for the first time in my life I have something that is truly mine? Upset that I know I will have your love for the rest of my life? Hardly. I love you Ginny Potter."
Ginny's breath hitched. That sounded good. She beamed up at him before tugging his head down to hers and planting her lips firmly on his. Harry responded feverishly, his hands pulling her tightly into him. He held her there as he ravaged her mouth. When the need for air became insistent he pulled away reluctantly, panting. He brought one hand up and gently cradled her cheek.
"Unfortunately," he began once he got his breath back, "I think it best that no one knows about this for awhile, so I'll be the only one calling you that."
Ginny frowned. "It might be hard not to let anything slip. After all, Mr. Potter, I have been after you since I was a little girl." She grinned impishly up at him.
"And you have me." His eyes sparkled as he thought of something. "If you'll let me up, I have something for you."
"What if I don't want to let you up?"
"While I completely agree with the sentiment, I think you might like this."
Ginny got up with a sigh and watched as Harry approached his trunk. He pulled out his wand and released the lock on it. After digging for a few minutes he emerged with a small box. He came back to where Ginny was sitting on his bed watching him and fell to his knees in front of her. Carefully opening the box he pulled out a delicate gold ring topped with a sparkling emerald. Holding it out to her, he quietly asked, "Be mine, Gin? And not just because you have to be, but because you truly want to. Be my wife and my lover, be my confident and guide, be my reason to live and fight?"
Ginny gasped, her eyes sparkling as a single solitary tear fell down her cheek. She looked into his sparkling eyes, more precious to her than any real emerald ever could be. Her whispered yes was hardly audible, but Harry heard it and beamed. He gently slid the ring on her finger, and caressed her hand as he looked at his ring on her hand. He couldn't understand why that sight meant so much to him. Ginny leaned down and retrieved the box. Inside there were two more rings. One was a delicate gold band embedded with rubies that fit perfectly with her ring. The other was a larger gold band with an intricate pattern of veins of ruby and emerald. She slid the ruby band on her hand and then pulled Harry's hand up and slipped the last band on his finger.
"You are just as much mine as I am yours, Potter."
Harry beamed at her and crawled up her body, pushing her back against the bed. He looked down at her with tenderness as his hand gently caressed her cheek. "And I would gladly tell the world so. But now is not the time. He pulled out his wand and waved it over their hands. He murmured a spell and the rings glowed with gold light. "Now only you and I can see them there, or feel them." Harry closed the small distance between them and kissed her fiercely. One arm was holding his weight above her while the other hand was buried in her fiery locks. He kissed her aggressively for several long minutes before pulling away. Reluctantly, he rolled off of her and lay beside her. "Gin?" He sounded hesitant and Ginny leaned up on one elbow so that she could look down at him. He was avoiding her eyes. "I don't think I'm ready for…"
Ginny smiled softly. "Neither am I Harry. We really only got together a couple of days ago. That can wait."
He met her eyes with relief. "That doesn't mean I don't want to."
"I know, Harry."
Ginny snuggled down against him, resting her head on his chest as his arm came around to cradle her against him. Her happiness was unbounded. As she drifted off to sleep the last thing she heard was a gently whisper of "I love you, Ginny Potter."
Ron Weasley was not as dense as he sometimes appeared. He had been watching his best mate and little sister carefully over the last few days, and he was convinced that something was up. Harry and Ginny had been close all summer, particularly after her birthday when they started dating. But three days ago Harry and Ginny had spent the entire morning locked up in his room, and when they had emerged it was with secretive smiles and the seeming constant need to be touching. It was fairly innocent in that regard, but Harry was constantly holding her hand, or wrapping an arm around her waist, or leading her along with a hand resting on the small of her back. It seemed that Harry could spent hours simply caressing her hand.
When they first had emerged from his room, having spent hours alone, Ron was worried about what had happened behind closed doors. But he knew Harry better than that. Ron had no doubt that there would come a time when his little sister and best mate became intimate, but he was convinced that that day would not be for awhile. Harry was nothing if not honorable. Indeed, Ron was fairly certain it would be on Ginny's insistence that they would progress to that stage. Ron shook himself. He did not like thinking about that.
Ron looked up from the book he was supposed to be reading to see Harry holding Ginny's left hand in both of his and peppering it with small kisses as she looked on with a look of adoration.
"Are you two always going to be so sickeningly sweet?"
Harry looked up from his worship of Ginny's hand and met Ron's eye with an amused look. "Probably."
Ron grimaced. "Okay, just know that I don't want to see anything. Ever."
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Of course, Ron. Do you honestly think we would do anything like that here? Where any one of my brothers or my parents could find us? I'm not an idiot." Harry seemed to have decided Ginny could handle her brother and returned to his adoration of her hand. Ron shook his head in exasperation. He had no idea why Harry was so obsessed with Ginny's hand.
"Just thought I'd remind you."
"Harry, dear!" Molly Weasley called up the stairs. "Professor Snape is here to see you!"
Harry, who was sitting with Ginny in her room, reading through a book on curses, froze. There was only one reason he could imagine for Snape to stop by. He took a second to calm his breathing and reinforce his shields. Then he looked up to meet Ginny's anxious gaze.
"You remember what we practiced?"
"Yes. I'm fairly sure I can keep him out."
"I don't know if he will try to break into your mind, but we need to be prepared. I'll try to keep his attention on me as much as possible."
"Relax, Harry. You've taught me well."
Harry smiled weakly at his wife, hoping it was enough. With a resigned sigh he took her hand as they walked down the stairs. Severus Snape was sitting stiffly at Molly's Weasley's kitchen table, looking like he'd rather be anywhere else. Which was probably true, Harry reflected.
"You wanted to see me, Professor?"
Snape looked up in shock. Harry had used a calm and polite tone of voice, one that Snape was not expecting from the boy.
"The Headmaster has asked me to test your Occlumency, Potter. I told him that it was hopeless. We both know that you learned next to nothing last year, but he was insistent."
Harry ignored the man's sneer and simply looked him squarely in the eye, inviting the probe. His confidence must have angered the man, for Snape entered quickly and forcefully, obviously expecting no resistance. The man flew across the room as he ran headfirst into Harry's wall and was expelled forcefully. Snape looked up in shock. Potter had completely blocked him. Picking himself up off the floor he tried again, this time more slowly.
Harry watched with a smirk. Squeezing Ginny's hand that he still held, he watched as Snape poked around his wall. Learning from his previous attempt, Snape abandoned the brute force method and concentrated on trying to slipping small tendrils between the steel plates of the wall. Of course, it was only an illusion that the wall was made of plates. In reality it was solid steel covered with steel plates to present the illusion that it was much weaker than it was. Harry's smile broadened as Snape found one of the 'special' plates he had left. As Snape probed around it, he jumped back in shock when it exploded in his face. Harry watched with glee as Snape's hair turned a shocking shade of pink and his robes lime green. Cursing, Snape abandoned his attempt and tried instead to scale the wall. This was what Harry had been waiting for. With an almighty roar one of his griffins flew over the wall and directly at the Potions Professor. It batted at the man's arm before retreating a few feet and eyeing him carefully. Harry did not want to truly hurt Snape, just scare him a little.
Muttering curses, Snape withdrew. The man looked shock to discover his change in wardrobe, and the long scratches that ran the length of his arm. "How did you do this, Potter? I've never heard of mental attacks that manifests in physical form before."
Harry smirked. "I read it in a book."
"And what book was that?" The man sneered at him.
"Oh, just something I had laying around."
Snape looked murderous. Shifting his attention, his eyes narrowed as he looked at Ginny. Harry froze nervously, but Ginny squeezed his hand encouragingly. She would let him know if she needed help.
Snape advanced into her mind, expecting to find no resistance. Thus he was shocked when he was surrounded by a circle of flames. They did not come close enough to burn him, but he could not find a way to move past them. He looked up, frustrated, only to see a sight that shocked him. An image of Potter was pacing outside the flames, watching him intently. And the boy held a ruby encrusted sword in his hand. Snape had no idea how Harry had managed to enter Ginny's mind undetected, but he had no doubt it was the boy's doing. Giving it up as a lost cause, Snape withdrew.
"You have learned much, Potter. I shall inform the Headmaster of your progress."
Without another word, Snape swept out of the room and disappeared. Ginny turned to Harry, beaming. "He fell for it."
It had been Ginny's idea to create her own Harry in her mind. The image of Harry with that sword was very personal to her, and it seemed only natural that she would use it to protect her mind. It had the added benefit of making it appear that it was Harry himself providing the defense. This would keep Dumbledore and other interfering people from learning the true extent of Ginny's knowledge of Occlumency, making it seem that Harry was protecting her.
"It's a good thing he gave up so quickly. I don't think he would have liked the acromantulas very much."
"He didn't seem to know what to do with my griffin. And the griffin is certainly the nicest of my guards. I could have sent a Skrewt at him."
"Do you think he got the message not to try to access our minds again?"
Harry's smile was almost feral. "I almost hope he tries again."
Harry was blissfully happy for the next few days. He was beginning to understand why Godric's wand decided to marry him and Ginny. There were many articles in the Prophet that talked of Death Eater attacks, and Harry was working hard on his training, but being with Ginny helped remind him of the good things in life that he was going to fight to protect. And his love for her motivated him to work even harder. They had had a long discussion one night about what they might like to do after the war was over. Harry had been hesitant to even consider the possibility; it had been a long time since he had allowed himself to consider a life after Voldemort. But Ginny refused to imagine a world without him in it, and he did not want to deny her. Harry told her how he no longer thought he wanted to be an Auror, and Ginny had quietly asked him what he did want to do. His response was that he didn't really know, as long as she would be by his side.
Ginny had no objections to this plan.
It was a few days before school was due to start that Harry's happiness came to an abrupt roadblock when Dobby shook him awake in the middle of the night.
"Master must wake up!"
Harry blinked open his eyes and turned to see the house elf wringing his hands in worry. "Dobby? What's wrong? Is Ginny okay?"
"Mistress is fine. She is sleeping. Master must hurry, Dobby fears it mays be too late."
"Too late for what, Dobby?"
"There is an attack, Master. Dobby was cleaning the Headmaster's rooms when he heard of it. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is attacking Diagon Alley tonight. Master must help."
Harry jumped from the bed and quickly reached for his clothes. He dug in his drunk until he found his invisibility cloak. Strapping on his wand he turned to the elf. "Can you take me there Dobby?"
"Good. Then go warn Gornak. They will need to protect the bank. And then come back and tell Ginny what is going on."
"Yes, Master. Take Dobby's hand."
Harry threw his cloak on and grasped the elf's outstretched hand. With a sharp crack they appeared in the alley behind Flourish and Blott's. With a quiet whisper of luck, Dobby was gone and Harry was stalking forward towards where he could see spell fire. When he came to the main street he looked in horror on the scene in front of him. The entire street was filled with Death Eaters, and only a few people were fighting back. Harry could see Kingsley and Professor McGonagall, but he didn't recognize anyone else. Drawing his wand, he cast a spell that caused his cloak to adhere closely to his clothes, making it less likely that anyone would see a stray piece of him. Then he joined the fight.
Harry's invisibility was a huge advantage, but he quickly came to realize how much this was unlike the battle he and his friends had fought in the Department of Mysteries several months ago. There he was facing opponents who were afraid to harm him. This was no longer the case. If it were not for the extra training he had been putting himself through he would not have stood a chance. Once more, he was grateful for the idea that Ginny had given him.
His hard earned skills earned him the advantage, as he was slowly able to make his way forward towards the center of the attack. He could see a half circle of Death Eaters that were concentrating on attacking the closed doors of Gringotts while others guarded their backs. Harry was immensely relieved to see that the doors of the bank were remaining closed and intact. He hoped his warning was able to provide some help.
Coming up on the group he hid himself behind a convenient piece of rubble and examined the situation. There were too many of them to fight all at once, as their sheer numbers would overcome any advantage his cloak could give him. Looking around, he slowly began to formulate a plan. Pointing his wand carefully at a store front about ten feet away from him he transfigured its large window into a solid mirror. He repeated this process with several other store fronts. Then he took careful aim in the first mirror. His stunning spell bounced off the mirror and reached one of the Death Eaters. The Death Eaters guarding their comrades automatically turned and started sending spells in the direction that his spell had come from, but Harry was already sending another reflected curse. He continued this strategy, using the mirrors to confuse the Death Eaters as to his location. In this manner he was able to take out most of the guarding Eaters.
Stepping out carefully, he examined what the others were casting at the bank's doors. They seemed to be using some kind of continuous spell, probably in an effort to bring down the wards that prevented them entry. Harry desperately flipped through his knowledge of wards, hoping to identify what was going on so that he could stop it, but to no avail. Quickly running out of time, he decided for a diversionary tactic. He aimed his wand carefully at a spot about two feet in front of the door of the bank. Suddenly, he was quite glad that he had been reading his mother's spell book. It contained many useful spells, and this one he had taken the time to improve upon.
A large fireball erupted in front of the startled Death Eaters. Then it exploded outwards in a ring of searing flames. The startled Eaters stood no chance or escape. Harry was grinning in triumph when he heard a voice that sent a chill through his heart.
"Well, what do we have here?"
Harry whipped around to find a lone Death Eater walking towards his hiding spot and looking intently for him. With a snarl of rage he sent a spell right at her heart, which she deflected.
"Someone doesn't want to be seen." She sneered.
"Well, more like I know you are beneath my notice, Bella." Quickly casting a glamour charm, Harry lowered his hood. He wanted her to see him so she would fight back. He knew it was probably suicide to give up his biggest advantage, but somehow he didn't care.
"You know who I am?" She threw a purple spell which he dodged.
"We've met." Her shield stopped his next curse.
Bellatrix cackled with glee. "I do so love reunions between old friends." She threw an Avada Kadavra at him, but he flicked his wand and sent a piece of stone to intercept its path. "Of course, I don't recall seeing you before, which means you must be in disguise. Care to drop it?"
"Hardly." He threw three spells in quick succession, and she only managed to dodge the first two. The last cutting curse opened up a large gash in her cheek.
"You fight well, for one so young. I don't recall fighting with you before." Harry's shield stopped her next spell.
"I can't help your memory loss." She ducked his returning volley.
Bellatrix looked at him carefully. "There is one young man you remind me of." She conjured a large black snake which turned on him. Not wanting to verify her suspicions, Harry did not attempt to reason with it. Instead, he held out his hand and caught the sword that appeared there, then calmly chopped off its head.
"Do you really think Dumbledore's Golden Boy would risk himself by coming here? Or that Dumbledore would let him?" Technically, he hadn't lied. He just no longer chose to follow Dumbledore's plans for him. But he wanted to deflect Bellatrix from her suspicions. He threw another set of curses at her, which she only stopped by conjuring a solid wall as a shield.
"No, you're right. Potter is too much of a coward to fight without the old fool's protection."
Harry seethed at her insult, but let it pass. It was a good delusion for her to work under. She sent another Killing Curse at him, which he stopped by slicing it in two with the sword still held in his hand. Gryffindor's sword glowed green as it absorbed the spell. Harry then threw the sword at her. She erected a quick shield to stop it, but her eyes widened in shock as the sword passed clean through. The last thing Harry saw was her look of fear as she grasped at something around her neck and disappeared.
Screaming in fury, Harry retrieved his sword and threw his hood back up. He stalked down the Alley, sword and wand slashing through enemies as he took out his rage over the one he had let get away.
It was only a few minutes later that the remaining Death Eaters vanished as well. With a sigh, Harry sagged against a nearby wall in exhaustion. It had been a long fight.
Harry's head whipped up to see Alastor Moody limping towards him, his magical eye fixed on him. Harry was immensely grateful that he had never dropped the glamour he had put up for the fight with Bellatrix. With a resigned sigh, Harry lowered his hood.
"Moody." He acknowledged.
"Do I know you?" Both of his eyes were firmly fixed on Harry.
"Maybe." Harry shrugged indifferently.
"Not going to tell me who you really are?"
"Wasn't planning on it." He kept his tone neutral.
"You fought well back there."
"I do what I can." Harry was surprised by the man's complement. Moody was one of the best fighters he knew.
"Aren't you a little young to be out here fighting." Harry thought it was ironic, as he was probably a couple years younger than even Moody guessed.
"I've been fighting my whole life."
"You interested in helping out some more?" Harry had to resist the urge to roll his eyes. He knew where this was going.
"Oh, I'll help out all I can, but I have no interest in joining Dumbledore's Order." Not anymore, at least. That ship had sailed.
Moody raised one gnarled eyebrow at that. "And I suppose you're not going to explain how you know about the Order in the first place."
"No, not really."
"How about explaining how you came to possess that particular sword." Harry turned to see the new speaker.
"Good evening Professor McGonagall." The stern witch merely looked at him, her mouth set in a thin line. "As to the sword. It is mine, so I called for it. I think I'll keep it from now on. Please send my apologies to the Headmaster for his loss of an office decoration."
With that Harry turned to leave.
"Wait!" Moody called behind him.
He didn't turn as he answered. "You'll forgive me, but my wife will be worried about me. It's best that I not keep her waiting."
Harry walked calmly towards the bank and Moody watched in astonishment as the goblins opened the door for him to enter. The Order had been trying to get the goblins to open the door for the last ten minutes to no avail, and this boy just walked up. Once inside the bank, Harry removed his glamour and came face to face with Gornak.
"Greetings, Mr. Potter. We offer our thanks for not only your warning but your efforts to guard the bank. Our wards were only moments away from collapsing when you intervened. You have the thanks of the goblin nation."
"It was my pleasure, Master Gornak. I am grateful that Gringotts remains safe. If you'll excuse me, I need to get home."
Gornak offered him a toothy smile. "Give my regards to Mrs. Potter."
Harry nodded in acknowledgement as he quietly called for Dobby.
Ginny had spent the last hour pacing nervously in her room. Dobby had shaken her awake to tell her of the attack on Diagon Alley and that Harry had gone to fight. She was too nervous to go back to sleep. So she had been pacing ever since. She looked up quickly when she heard a sharp crack to find Harry and Dobby standing in front of her. She didn't even pause to examine him for injuries before she launched herself at him. Harry caught her while stumbling back several steps and hugged her tightly to him. He grunted as she jumped up and wrapped her legs tightly around his waist, wanting to get closer to him.
"I'm okay, Gin."
She released a strangled breath. "I was so worried." She buried her head against his neck and cried with relief. Harry ran his hands along her back and slowly walked to her bed. He sat down with her still wrapped around him. He let her cry against him, murmuring soft words in her ear, until she calmed down. As if suddenly remembering that he had been fighting, she pushed back a bit and examined his face closely. "Are you hurt?"
"I have a few scrapes and bruises, but nothing to worry about."
Harry quietly told her everything. He told her of taking down many of the Death Eaters who were destroying the Alley. Then he told her of his plan to take out those fighting for entrance into the bank. But when he got to his fight with Bellatrix she let out a strangled gasp.
"You fought Bellatrix?" He nodded. "Are you okay?"
"Yes. She portkeyed out two seconds before I planted the sword in her chest."
He continued his story until he got to Moody discovering him. "Did he recognize you?"
"No. I still had a glamour on. It was a good thing, too. I think I should wear one whenever I go out now. He questioned me, offered me a place in the Order, asked who I was. Then McGonagall asked about the sword." They both looked down to the floor where Gryffindor's sword lay where he had dropped it. "I told her it was mine and I was keeping it."
Ginny stood up quickly and placed her hands on her hips. "Okay, Potter, let's see those scrapes and bruises of yours."
With a roll of his eyes, Harry stood up and pulled off his now tattered shirt, showing a torso that was quite covered in bruises and small scrapes. There was even one long cut down his side that was still bleeding mildly. Ginny held out her hand and Harry gave her Godric's wand. She then spent the next several minutes meticulously healing all of his injuries. When she had healed all she could see she looked up at him again.
"Are there any more?"
"Um…" Harry blushed pink, "a couple, but I can heal them myself."
"Not bloody likely. Come on, Potter, out of the pants too."
Now an alarming shade of red, Harry stood up and reluctantly unbuckled his pants. He stepped out of them carefully and watched as Ginny healed several more bruises on his legs. When she was satisfied that she had got them all she allowed him to pull his pants back on. Then she pushed him back on the bed and crawled into his lap. Now that she had healed him she allowed herself to look at his bare chest a little differently. Her hand idly traced his muscles and she watched as he shivered under her hand. He put a hand to her chin and drew her head up to his before plundering her mouth.
An exhausted Minerva was sitting in a chair in the Headmaster's office while Moody paced in front of the desk.
"I tell you, Albus, I've never seen a kid fight like that before."
"Are you positive it wasn't Harry?"
Minerva looked up sharply. "Why would Harry leave the safety of the Borrow?"
"Harry and I have recently had numerous differences of opinions. I fear it is only a matter of time before he finds a way to fight."
"Well, it hasn't happened yet. There is no way that kid was Potter, Albus."
"How do you know, Alastor?"
"Because I have seen Potter fight, and he is nowhere near that good."
"He could have been training this summer. Indeed, he must have as I have heard that he soundly beat Bill Weasley in a duel."
Moody looked shocked. He himself had trained Bill since the eldest Weasley son joined the Order, and he knew how good he was. "How? We both know he can't legally use magic. And the Ministry had caught no hint that he has been trying to."
"Perhaps. But it appears he may have found a way around this. Please continue."
"And this kid must have some connection with the goblins. They let him in without question in the midst of a full lockdown."
"Yes, that does seem to imply that it was not Harry. I have been carefully keeping him from Gringotts recently, and had Molly do his shopping for him so that there was no need for him to go into the bank."
"Why, Albus?" Minerva interjected.
"I don't think it would be wise for him to learn of his full inheritance yet."
"But there is more, Albus." Moody began again. "When he was leaving he begged pardon with the explanation that he needed to get back to his wife. There is no way that Potter is married, he is too young."
Moody, who was looking at the wall as he paced, missed the look on Albus' face at the mention of a wife, but Minerva did not. She almost thought it was a look of fear before it was quickly dismissed.
"Yes, that does seem to imply that it could not be Harry. Assuming he was telling the truth about his wife."
"He had no reason to lie, Albus. He didn't even have to mention her if he didn't want us to know anything."
Albus sat for several long minutes in thought. When he first heard of the young boy who fought so spectacularly he thought for sure it was Harry, and he was quite delighted that the boy was finally coming in to his power. Of course, he would have to put a stop to it immediately if it was Harry. This was not how Harry was supposed to enter the fight. He could almost dismiss all of Alastor's doubts, but the wife issue was troubling. Then Albus remembered the potion he had slipped Harry when he was last there. It would still be in effect for several more days. Harry was still safe from Ginevra Weasley's influence. And it was impossible for Harry and Ginevra to have married without Arthur and Molly's permission. There was just one thing troubling him. If the boy was not Harry, who was he that he claimed ownership of the sword of Gryffindor? Albus looked up at the now empty case on his wall. He had been certain that the sword had sworn allegiance to Harry in the Chamber. Perhaps he was wrong.
"Yes, I agree. It is very unlikely that our mysterious fighter was Harry. However, I believe I will send Remus to talk to Harry just in case. It is imperative that we know what is going on with him, and he has been somewhat… hostile towards me in recent weeks."
A/N: Hope you enjoyed the extra long chapter. I am so sorry for the delay. My computer crashed (twice) and it took over three weeks to fix it. Then I lost all the work I had done on the new chapter and had to start again. A lot of important things happened in this chapter. Although we got some answers, there is still more going on, particularly with Harry and Ginny's bonding.
I do apologize, I'm not the best action writer. Feel free to embellish the fight in your own mind.
Remus Lupin took a long breath as he paused outside the door. He was still unsure about why he was here. Albus had come to see him yesterday with some concerns about Harry, and asked if Remus wouldn't mind checking on him. Truthfully, Remus had been meaning to go see him for some time now. This had only intensified when he received a very unusual letter from Gringotts this morning. He knew that Harry could use a friend right now, and wasn't about to deny that he was looking forward to being with the only connection to his friends he had left. But Albus seemed to think something more than grieving was going on with Harry.
Remus had sat in shock as Albus told him how Harry had destroyed nearly his entire office, how he had fought—and beat!—Bill Weasley in a duel, how he had thrown the Headmaster out of the house, and how he now seemed to have the best Occlumency shields Severus had ever seen. Then Albus had shared Moody's concerns. Hearing the story of the Battle in Diagon Alley, Remus had to admit that he could understand why Moody seemed so set on thinking it was Harry that was there. But Remus couldn't reconcile that possibility with the boy he knew, let alone the boys comment about his wife. There was some crucial piece of information he was missing. And so he had agreed to be Albus' emissary to the boy.
Albus need never know that that wasn't the real reason he was standing on the front step of the Burrow today.
Shaking his head, Remus knocked smartly. It was barely a moment before the door was opened by a smiling Molly Weasley.
"Remus! Please, come in." He smiled gratefully at her. "What can we do for you? Would you like some tea?"
"No, thank you, Molly. I really was just wondering if I could speak with Harry. I thought perhaps we could spend the day together."
"Oh, I'm sure he'll be delighted to see you. He and Ginny are out by the pond."
Remus raised a questioning eyebrow. "Is there something going on that I don't know about?"
Molly beamed. "Harry asked her out on her birthday. They are nearly inseparable these days."
Remus smiled at this. He had always hoped that might happen. Few women in the world were strong enough to handle Harry Potter, but he thought that Ginny Weasley might just be up for the job. And there was no denying that she was a beautiful young lady. "I'm happy to hear he finally came to his senses about that. Perhaps I'll just go join them."
Molly waved him on through and he made his way out the back door. At first he couldn't see them, but as he walked closer to the pond he found the young couple sitting comfortably under a large tree. Harry was leaning against it and Ginny was curled up in his lap, his arms wrapped around her. They seemed to be quietly conversing.
"Harry!" The lad's eyes shot up, and when they landed on him, Harry broke into a smile.
"Moony! It's wonderful to see you." Harry made to help Ginny off his lap and stand up, but Remus waved him down.
"There's no need to get up. I was wondering if perhaps I might join you."
Ginny smiled at him. "Certainly."
Remus made himself comfortable on the ground near them and looked at them carefully. He was mildly shocked to see Harry looking so well. After last summer he had expected to find Harry miserable and depressed, but the man before him seemed content and happy. Though that may only be due to the pretty witch on his lap.
"How have you been, Moony?"
Remus sighed. "I've been making do. Things have been hard the last few months."
Harry's smile was replaced by a serious look. "I'm sorry, Remus."
"It's not your fault, Harry."
"Oh, I know." Remus looked up in shock at this. "Doesn't mean I don't feel bad for your pain. I lost him, too."
"You seem to be handling things remarkably well, Harry."
Ginny laughed. "It wasn't always that way, Remus. It took me a lot of hard work to get him this happy." Remus looked at the girl in question. She elaborated at his questioning look. "It took a lot of work to get him to understand it wasn't his fault."
Remus chuckled. "The wonders of having a good woman."
"You need to find one for yourself, old man." Harry was smirking at him. Remus blushed.
"No, he doesn't. He already has one if only he'd wake up and smell the butterbeer." Ginny was looking at him with an arch look. "He knows Tonks is the girl for him."
Remus cleared his throat. "Um, yes… well I'm not here to talk about me."
Harry laughed and Remus rejoiced in the sound. It had been a long time since he heard it, and he certainly hadn't expected to hear it today. "Well, take it from someone who knows. It's always best to give in to her. It's amazing what having a good woman by your side will do for you." Harry looked down at Ginny as he spoke, an expression of adoration on his face.
Remus raised an eyebrow. "Is that what prompted all the changes in you, Harry? I heard some interesting things from Albus yesterday."
Remus was shocked by the look that came over Harry's face. It was cold, detached. Ginny put a calming hand on his chest and whispered in his ear until his hands unclenched. Even more shocking was the expression in Harry's eyes as he looked up at him.
"If you're here on the old man's orders you might as well leave now, Lupin."
"Harry." Ginny chided quietly.
"No. If he is here simply as another minder then I have no use for him."
"That's not why I'm here, Harry."
"Really? Then it is just coincidence that you came after we sent both Dumbledore and Snape packing?"
"Oh, I'm not denying that Albus asked me to come. He was concerned about some things. Things which I'm beginning to think that I may only have half the story on. But I would have come anyway." Remus paused. "I'm going to be honest, Harry. I've not been well the last two months. I spent most of my time holed up in my room and ignoring the world. And then I got a most interesting letter from Gringotts this morning. Seems someone has arranged to provide Wolfsbane Potion for any werewolf. They were told to contact me specifically." Remus paused again and raised a meaningful eyebrow at Harry. Harry's cold gaze didn't falter. "Tonks came and literally threw me out of the house today, saying that if I didn't get off my sorry arse than she would curse me until I no longer had one. I was hoping we could talk some. Truthfully, it is as much for me as it is for you."
Harry looked at him for a very long time, and Remus felt like his soul was being judged. Then Harry seemed to come to a decision of some kind. He unwrapped an arm from Ginny, drew out a wand and flicked it around them.
"Harry! You shouldn't be using magic yet!"
Harry smiled at him. "That's one of the things I have to tell you, Moony. But don't worry, the Ministry can't trace that." Remus sagged in relief at the return of his nickname. He never wanted Harry to be that cold to him again. "I have some things I'd like to tell you, but I'll only do so if you swear to me that you will keep this to yourself."
"Of course, Harry."
"Even from Dumbledore."
Remus smiled wryly. "I assumed that much. Now, why don't you start at the beginning?"
"The beginning? That would take too long. We'll start the night Sirius died." Harry's head dropped briefly and Ginny turned in his embrace until her back was resting against his chest. She pulled his arms around her and laced her fingers through his. He seemed to draw strength from her before beginning. "Dumbledore sent me back to Hogwarts and locked me in his office. He told me fifteen years ago he witnessed a prophecy being made about me and Voldemort." Remus drew in a sharp breath. He had hoped that wasn't where this was going. "A prophecy that stated that I would be the one to defeat hiVoldemort, and that I would have a power he knows not. Dumbledore also informed me that Voldemort only knew the first part of the prophecy, the part that identified me as being capable of defeating him. Dumbledore then told me he thought this power of mine was love."
A memory stirred in Remus' mind. He remembered one summer when James' dad had pulled him aside for a long conversation. It was the summer before their seventh year, and James had come back different and more mature. He said he couldn't tell them about it, just that he learned some things about his family and about power. Deciding to analyze this later, Remus turned back to Harry.
"The next day I was wandering around, considerably depressed and ready to give up. There was no way that I could defeat the greatest Dark Lord in recent history using love. I was about to give up hope when Ginny found me."
Ginny cut in here. "I was able to convince him that things couldn't possibly be as bad as he thought and set out to solve some of his problems."
Harry smiled down at her and took over the narrative. "I knew that there was no way I could last another summer locked up at the Dursleys with no contact with the magical world, and I knew I needed to train. Ginny found a solution for me." Harry turned and called, "Dobby!"
A crack heralded the arrival of a smartly dressed house elf that Remus remembered encountering at Hogwarts.
"Master called for Dobby?"
"Yes, Dobby. I'd like you to meet my friend Remus Lupin. He's going to be helping us."
The elf turned towards Remus and beamed at him, then bowed deeply. "It is an honor to meet any friend of my Master and Mistress."
Remus' jaw dropped. Mistress? Could Moody be correct? Remus shook himself. There was no way that Harry could be married. It wasn't even legally possible.
"Thank you, Dobby, that will be all for now." The elf disappeared and Harry turned back to Remus. He seemed to know what Remus was confused about. "All in good time, Moony. Anyways, Ginny had me bind Dobby as my elf. He can help me get around undetected, and he was able to help me communicate with Ginny, thus making sure I knew what was going on in the wizarding world. He also was able to get me several supplies that have been invaluable in helping me train."
Harry took a breath and Remus watched as Ginny squeezed his hand in silent encouragement. It had been many years since he had seen a couple so in tune with each other, and to see one so young was amazing. "I was… concerned about how the Headmaster had handled many things related to me, so I had Dobby take me to Gringotts so that I could speak to the goblins myself." Remus made to interrupt—that was so dangerous!—but Harry held up a hand to stop him. "I know, it was reckless. But it was one of the best things I've ever done. The goblins informed me that I had a family vault that I had never been informed of."
"Albus never took you to your family vault? But it is tradition to take a wizard when they turn eleven."
"Yes, well, I suspect Dumbledore didn't want me to learn several things about my family. In my vault I found not only several books that have helped me immensely, but a letter from my mum. You can imagine, seeing as how I had nothing that had ever belonged to her, how much that meant to me. And to know that Dumbledore had kept it from me all these years made me quite angry. In this letter she told me two important things. She included the prophecy, and she told me about the Potter Family Legacy and how to access it." Harry looked him directly in the eye. "Of course, the prophecy she told me was slightly longer than the version Dumbledore had told me only a few days before."
"Apparently, Dumbledore decided that he would keep the second half of the prophecy to himself. We think we know why, but we'll get to that. The Legacy mum told me about came with a letter of explanation from dad. He said only a blood Potter could tell me about it."
"Yes, I remember the summer James learned. But he never told us what it was."
"That's because he couldn't. There is an ancient protection on this knowledge. I can tell no one but my own family."
Remus considered carefully. "James must have known about this when he heard about the prophecy."
"Yes. Mum and dad were quite sure this was the power the prophecy spoke of. Of course, Dumbledore knows nothing about it."
"What can you tell me about it?"
Harry once more drew his wand. Then he flicked his left hand and drew a second wand. Remus nearly jumped in shock.
Harry held up the one in his left hand. "This is my old wand. I will continue to use it in school. But it has the trace still on it." He held up the other wand. "This is a family heirloom, untraceable and considerably more powerful. This is what I have been using all summer."
Remus recognized the dodge for what it was. Harry could not tell him where the wand came from, and what was so special about it. But he understood. He looked carefully at the wand, and began to reconsider several things.
"So this is how you were able to soundly beat Bill Weasley." Remus paused. "And nearly beat Bellatrix Lestrange."
Harry looked startled that Remus had reached that conclusion, but then shrugged. "Yes."
"Harry," Remus began hesitantly, "Moody says that you claimed to need to get home to your wife."
Harry smirked. "Remus Lupin, meet Ginevra Potter, my wife."
Remus jaw dropped. No, it couldn't be. "How did you get Molly Weasley to agree to marry off her fifteen year old daughter?"
Ginny laughed. "Actually, I was fourteen at the time, and she has no idea."
"Care to explain?"
"My new wand decided that Ginny and I needed to be married. It bonded us and had Dobby stand as witness. We didn't find out ourselves until nearly two months later."
Remus' mind was spinning. "Why?"
Harry closed his eyes as if he was carefully considering how to proceed. When he opened them again Remus was startled at the power that resided there. "I think it's time I tell you the prophecy, Moony." Remus nodded in acknowledgement. "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… That is how much Voldemort knows about. And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not…, and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…. And that is the end of what Dumbledore told me. But there is more. And his power will be hidden from the world, none to know of it until the beginning of the end…. He will be lead to greatness by one whose love for him is old and strong… The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… with his guide he will prevail, without he will fall lower than any before him have gone… The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…."
Remus sat in shock, carefully thinking about what he heard. It was several minutes before he spoke. "The identifying feature of the child doesn't seem to only apply to you."
"No, it could have been Neville as well."
Remus nodded, he has suspected as much. "And without hearing more of the prophecy Voldemort did not know that it could be dangerous to go after you. Hence why he was able to mark you. You have identified this power you have, and seemed to be learning to use it quite well." He thought about the last part, the part Dumbledore had kept to himself. "I see the secrecy. It seems like it comes not from the prophecy itself but from the nature of your power. But I see how Dumbledore might have misinterpreted that not knowing what you do." He thought about the ending. "And the warning included, Dumbledore would have been wary of that."
Ginny spoke up. "We're fairly certain that's why he placed Harry with the Dursleys, to try and prevent him from going Dark."
"Yes, that makes sense. And there's even more than you are probably aware of. Dumbledore forbid all of us who knew your parents from ever attempting to contact you, even after you rejoined the wizarding world."
Harry looked at him, "I had always wondered about that."
"Yes. He even tried to get Sirius to agree not to contact you very often." Remus smiled sadly. "Of course, Sirius never was very good at following rules." Harry chuckled. "But what I don't understand is about this guide. Who is it?"
"Me." Ginny answered.
"I guess I'm not surprised after today. Is this why the wand bound you?"
"We think so. We really don't know very much about it."
"Hmm… I think I've found myself a research project."
"Just make sure to be discrete about it, Moony."
"I will be." He looked at them carefully. "But why wouldn't Dumbledore want you to know about that part?"
Harry let out a harsh laugh. "This is where things get truly bad. Dumbledore got it in his head that he was going to be my guide, and so he set about making sure that no one else would fulfill the terms of the prophecy."
"Meaning no one could truly love you." Remus' face fell. That Dumbledore would deliberately keep Harry from ever experiencing love, simply to try and mold things his way, made him look at the Headmaster in a new light. And it wasn't very flattering.
"Correct. Whenever someone got close, he prevented it." Harry looked down at the girl in his arms as he continued. "He must have known that Ginny was a threat, as she has been in love with me for most of her life. We didn't find out exactly what he had done until a couple weeks ago, as he tried it again. Only this time I was able to recognize it and counter it."
With a feeling of dread, Remus asked, "What exactly did he do?"
"Beginning in my third year, he regularly fed me love potion to divert my attention away from her."
Remus Lupin, Werewolf, Marauder, and member of the Order of the Phoenix, exploded out of his seat. He snarled in fury and clenched his wand in his fist.
Smirking, Ginny pulled out Harry's wand and twirled it until a decent replica of the Headmaster appeared. "Let it out, Remus."
Remus' wand came up blindingly fast and with a not so mild curse he shot a spell that exploded the entire thing. He eyed the rubble for several minutes as he panted in anger. Finally he turned to the young couple before him, so obviously in love.
"How could he?" His voice was laced with anger and disappointment.
"He was blinded by what he wanted and didn't stop to consider that what he wanted might just spell the doom of the wizarding world." Harry's voice was hard. "Evidently, he thought it was sufficient merely to redirect my thoughts away from Ginny. When he visited after learning of our relationship, he tried to stop it. Whether it's because I had finally recognized my love for her or if it is was some consequence of our bonding, I was able to recognize when the love potion took effect. Hermione was able to brew up an antidote."
"But, Harry, surely he'll try again."
"Yes, we thought so too," Ginny began. "We used an old spell that Hermione had found to protect him from all love potions."
"The Lover's Protection Spell."
Remus stared at the girl. "You were able to get that to work?" He knew of that spell. No one had managed it in at least a thousand years. And he knew the requirements to be able to cast it. Their love must be very deep indeed.
"With the help of Harry's new wand."
Remus turned to Harry. "And you performed the charm on Ginny as well, I assume?" The couple stared at him in shock. "Surely it occurred to you that when his attempts on Harry failed he might try something on Ginny?"
Harry's eyes grew big. He turned Ginny around, and pointed his wand firmly at her heart. "Verus diligo mos servo!" When Ginny had cast the spell it had glowed red, this time Ginny was surrounded by emerald green. When the glow subsided Ginny fisted her hand in his shirt and pulled his mouth down to hers. Remus left the couple alone until he started to get uncomfortable, and then he coughed lightly to get their attention.
They didn't stop.
"Harry! Ginny! Now is neither the time nor place for that." The couple pulled apart, blushing.
Remus coughed uncomfortably. "I understand. When one has such a pretty young wife it is hard to keep your hands to yourself." Harry blushed and nodded. "Now, why don't you tell me about your training? Maybe I can help."
Remus had thoroughly enjoyed the rest of his day with Harry and Ginny. He had even had his arse handed to him by the lad in a friendly duel. Some of the spells that Harry knew were quite… interesting in their effects. But when the sun began to set it was time to get more serious.
"Harry, you know that I am behind you with this, but what am I going to tell Albus. You know he is going to check up on this visit."
Harry considered this for several minutes. "Tell him the truth. I am angry at his manipulations of me, and determined to no longer be a pawn in his scheming. I have been training hard, and will continue to do so." Harry smirked. "And make sure he knows I am still with Ginny, though I would appreciate the extent of our relationship to remain between us."
"Ashamed of the wife, are we?" Remus teased.
"Not at all, have you seen how gorgeous she is?" Ginny rolled her eyes at him. "Just protecting my family, Moony."
Remus bid the couple goodbye a much changed man from that morning. He had seen the power of their love, and the first thing he did on apparating out was knock on Nymphadora Tonk's door. When she answered it, he swept her into his arms and firmly kissed her.
She didn't feel the need to complain.
Harry was sitting down at the kitchen table and groggily eating his breakfast the morning of September 1st when a flash of flame erupted in front of him, and a single letter dropped on the table. Harry looked at it warily; he knew who it must have come from, and he wasn't sure he wanted to communicate with Dumbledore. Yet it was probably inevitable. Today they were returning to school, and Harry could hardly avoid the man entirely there. Sighing, he reached out and opened the letter.
Given the outcome of our last meeting, I thought it prudent to discuss some things with you by letter before you return to school today. I was wondering if you had intended to continue training the group known as Dumbledore's Army. I would like to encourage you in this pursuit, as I believe you have the ability to help many of your classmates. The skills that you could teach them would prove invaluable in this war we find ourselves in.
Harry laughed at this. As if he needed a reminder about how important it was to train properly for the war. He was almost inclined to refuse the request simply because it had come from Dumbledore, but he couldn't bring himself to do that. He knew that it was necessary to train the other students, and he was in the best position to do so. However, he would not work under Dumbledore's thumb. It seemed new contracts were in order as well as a change of name. He would have to think about that.
In addition, I would like to provide you with any training that I am capable of. I think it time that I take a more active hand in your education. To this end, I would like to see if we could put our disagreement behind us. I am willing to train you myself in preparation for your destiny. As you are quite aware, you must have training.
Harry couldn't hold back a snort of amusement. That the old man really believed he would simply put aside all his anger at him was astounding. At least Dumbledore was finally admitting that Harry needed training, but Harry refused to take it from him. This letter only seemed like another sad attempt to insinuate himself in Harry's life as the prophesized guide.
Finally, you may not wish to hear this, but it really is for the best. Taking time right now to pursue a romantic relationship is probably not wise. You need to focus on your destiny for the moment, and not put anyone in undue danger because of your feelings for them. I'm sure you can see how this is the way things must be for the time being.
I hope to speak with you soon,
Harry had to restrain himself from tearing the letter he held into miniscule pieces. Once again, the man thought he could control Harry's life. Well, Harry did not intend to comply. Nothing in the world was strong enough to keep him away from Ginny. And if Dumbledore tried to, Harry might just be forced to reveal their bonding. Harry was now a legal adult, and had legal control over Ginny as well. And he would use it if Dumbledore tried to take her away.
Releasing a breath, Harry stood and got a piece of parchment. He sat down and scrawled a quick response to the meddling old man.
I thank you for your concern. As I explained at our last meeting, I will protect Ginny with all I have. I would advise you not to try to interfere, as you will not like the results. It is none of your concern how I choose to live my life, and whom I associate with. Any right you may have had to guide me was relinquished when you failed to tell me the prophecy in enough time to save the life of the only father I have ever known.
As to the other issues you raised, I am by no means neglecting my training. I will be arranging for others to help me, and I expect you not to try and interfere with that. I will not be requiring your services.
I do intend to continue working with the group formerly known as Dumbledore's Army. I will have my own entrance requirement, and the group will maintain its strict secrecy. I would advise that you do not try and get around that.
Satisfied, Harry called Dobby and asked him to leave the letter for the Headmaster. He wanted the man fully aware of where things stood before he arrived at school that evening. Finishing his breakfast, he flicked his wand at his plates, sending them to the sink, and headed up to make sure that Dobby had packed all of his things. He also wanted to check the charms on his trunk and wand holster. It would not do for Dumbledore to gain access to either one.
The Weasleys, as usual, were late arriving at King's Cross that morning, even with the help of the cars that the Ministry had sent for them. Harry thought it ironic that the Ministry was now sending cars and Aurors to protect him when only a few months ago they thought he was a deluded attention-seeking idiot. But he shrugged this off. Harry was nervous as they walked through the station. He couldn't have his wand out on the Muggle side, but he was tensed the entire time, ready to fight back instantly if an attack was attempted. He kept a firm hold on Ginny's hand, not wanting to lose her in the crowds. Ginny could sense his tension, and leaned into his side in an effort to calm him.
"I don't think Voldemort would attack the Express, Harry."
"Me either. He wouldn't want to risk harming the pureblood students. But it isn't Voldemort I'm worried about." Ginny looked up at him curiously. "Dumbledore and I exchanged letters this morning, and I'm fairly certain he is going to try something."
Ginny looked worried. "What did he say?"
Harry looked around, making sure that her parents were not in hearing range. "He asked me about continuing the DA, he stated his intention to start training me himself, and he asked me to stop seeing you for your own safety." Ginny tensed at his side. "I informed him that I would continue to train my fellow students, that I would be training myself without his help, and that he wouldn't like the results if he continued to try and interfere in my life."
"What do you think he is going to try?"
"Well, I imagine that he is going to be quite shocked when he discovers that I was not affected by the love potion he slipped me. He probably has some way of arranging it so that I run into Cho soon in an effort to get me away from you. When that fails, I imagine he will try a more powerful potion or some kind of compulsion spell."
"But those won't work, right?"
"No, you've protected me from them. From there he will probably try to the same methods on you, which will fail. I don't know what he might try after that. He might try some type of legal action to separate us."
Ginny looked worried. "He won't get away with that, will he?"
"No. If we have to, I will simply announce the recent… change in my status in the wizarding world. In addition, I now have legal control over you, so if he tries anything to send you away I will be able to stop it."
"I hope it doesn't come to that."
"Me too, Gin, me too." Harry paused as they arrived at the barrier and Ron, Hermione, and Mrs. Weasley made their way through. He held Ginny back. "I'm also concerned that he may try some kind of tracking or monitoring charm on me. I am going to need to check out the library to find a way to combat something like that."
Ginny squeezed his hand. "We'll work it out, love."
Harry smiled softly down at her. "I know. I can do anything with you by my side."
With that, Harry pulled her through the barrier. His eyes quickly scanned the platform, looking for threats. He remained tense as Mrs. Weasley said her goodbyes, barely registering when she hugged his as well. He followed the other three on to the train as they looked for a compartment. The train was already full, but towards the back they found Neville sitting by himself.
"Hey, mate!" Ron called out as he walked in the compartment. "Mind if we join you?"
Neville smiled at them in greeting. "No. I've been saving these for you. Figured you lot would be running late."
Hermione laughed. "I tried, Neville, but it appears that the Weasleys are doomed to be forever late on the morning of the train."
Ron rolled his eyes at her as he made to sit down next to Neville. Hermione sat next to him and immediately pulled a book out of her bag. This left the opposing seat for Harry and Ginny. Harry sat in the corner and pulled Ginny down to sit next to him. His wand was already out, held in his hand. For the first time in months, he was once more holding his holly wand.
Neville eyed it warily. "Expecting an attack, mate?"
"You can never be too careful, Neville. Besides, you know that Malfoy is going to stop by for his customary greeting." Neville's eyebrows rose as Harry's expression turned feral.
"And just what do you have planned for that, Mr. Potter?" Ginny quipped.
He grinned down at her. "Nothing, Mrs…my dear." Ginny's eyes shot up at his slip, then shot over to look at Hermione. Luckily, the older girl was still absorbed in her book.
"How has your summer been, Neville?" Ginny asked.
"It was good. I finally got my own wand." He pulled out a sleek new wand and held it lovingly in his hand. "Gran wasn't even upset with me for breaking the other one. Said it was about time I started living up to my dad's reputation. She was right proud of me."
"You deserved it, mate." Harry said quietly.
"Are you going to continue with the DA this year, Harry?" Neville looked eager.
"Yes, though a change of name is in order."
"Why?" Neville looked around curiously. Ron and Harry both had their hands clenched in anger, Ginny's eyes had darkened, and Hermione had looked up from her book.
It was Harry who answered. "The Headmaster and I no longer see eye to eye about certain issues. It has come to my attention that he has acted in a manner deliberately harmful to me." Harry drew in a sharp breath to calm himself down. "Anyone got any good ideas for names?"
"I think we're Potter's Army." Neville said quickly.
Harry scowled. "I don't want anything named after me."
"I still think you should call it the Anti-Voldemort Movement." Ron smirked.
"The AVM just doesn't roll off the tongue, mate."
"What plans do you have for it, Harry?" Hermione asked, setting her book aside.
"I'm going to make contracts again. Only this time I want to add not only punishments for talking, but a vow of silence that prevents it from happening in the first place. Also, a vow of loyalty. And I've been thinking about those galleons you made, Hermione. I want to make something similar, but with more functionality." Harry paused in thought. "Do you think it would be possible to make some kind of necklace, something that could always be worn close to the skin, that we could turn into an emergency portkey? Maybe even make it so that with a certain trigger word it would alert the rest of us to danger and give a location?"
Hermione looked thoughtful for a few minutes. "I think so. I could do the second part, but I don't know how to make portkeys." She looked at Harry carefully. "I think you would need to do that part yourself. It would require quite a bit of power."
She was looking at him meaningfully, and Harry nodded. He understood what she was implying.
"The Hogwarts Legion." Ginny said quietly. "We all are willing to fight for Hogwarts. We could call it the Legion for short."
Harry looked down at her. "I like that." He held her gaze and brought a hand up to gently cup her cheek.
Ron rolled his eyes at the two of them. "They are getting lost in another one of their staring contests." He turned to Neville. "Fancy a game of chess?"
The next hour was relatively quiet. Hermione returned to her book, Ron and Neville played three consecutive games of chess, Ginny sat talking with Luna, who had found them shortly after the train left the station, and Harry spent the time quietly thinking and playing with Ginny's hair. Their quiet was interrupted by the sound of the compartment door opening.
"Well, if it isn't the Ministry Six? Going to run off on another suicide mission?" Draco Malfoy leered at them, his gaze resting most often on Ginny who was sitting comfortably against Harry's side.
"Really, Malfoy, is that the best you've got?" She shot back.
"Oh, I could show you some more," he leered at her. "Perhaps we should take this to a more private location."
Ginny shivered. "In your dreams, ferret boy."
"But Gin, I really don't want him dreaming about you." Harry smirked up at Malfoy. "Only I get the privilege of dreaming about you." He leveled his wand on the blond boy, and his face morphed into an expression that terrified the boy in front of him. "I'll give you five seconds to get out of here, Malfoy."
"Like you could hurt me, Potter. Dumbledore isn't here to save you this time. Are you going to let someone else die for you?"
Harry didn't answer him. He flicked his wand and shot a deep purple spell at the Slytherin, quickly followed by another which shoved him out into the hallway. Ginny's spell connected next, leaving Malfoy screaming on the ground as giant bats emerged from his nose. Hermione stood up and shut the door, charming it shut. Then she turned to Harry.
"You really shouldn't have done that, Harry. But I suppose he was asking for it."
"What exactly did you do to him, mate?" Ron asked.
"I don't want him dreaming about Ginny. So I ensured that he wouldn't. Permanently."
"Hopefully it will help him," Luna said dreamily. "He really needs to accept the truth about himself if he ever wants to be happy."
Ginny looked at her friend with an amused expression, then turned to Harry. "Explain."
"I charmed him so that every time he dreams starts to revolve around Ginny he will instead dream about someone else." Harry smirked.
"There's more to it, Potter, I know you."
Harry didn't answer, but Luna did. "Harry used an old spell favored by purebloods. Usually, they use it to encourage appropriate tendencies in their children when a child is displaying homosexual tendencies." Hermione's jaw dropped. "Harry altered it so that it will have the opposite effect."
"Are you saying that you gave Malfoy sexual dreams about blokes?" Ron asked incredulously.
Ginny burst into giggles. "I love you, Harry Potter. That was brilliant."
Harry smiled down at her. He picked up her left hand and brought it to his lips for a kiss. Only she could see that he was kissing the ring she wore there.
Harry had avoided Dumbledore's gaze throughout the welcoming feast. He had also repelled at least four attempts to access his thoughts, three from Snape and one from the old man. These mealtime assaults continued for several days. It was on the morning of the fourth day at Hogwarts that he made a face as he drank his pumpkin juice. He squeezed Ginny's hand to get her attention.
"Something is off with my juice." He whispered in her ear.
She looked up with concern. "Nothing is wrong, is it?"
"No. I'm fine."
Ginny breathed a huge sigh of relief, but turned back to her meal. They didn't want to draw undue attention to the fact that they were aware of the attempt.
Because of the potion, Harry was unsurprised when he felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around to see Cho Chang standing behind him. He smiled slightly at the girl.
"Hi, Harry." The pretty girl shot a venomous glance at Ginny before turning back to Harry. "I was wondering if the DA was going to start again."
"Yes, but some things are going to change. We've changed the name and drawn up new contracts."
Cho scowled. "I hope Granger was nicer this time."
Harry smiled. "Actually, I drew them up myself and they are much harsher than last year. I can't afford to teach someone I don't trust." Harry's eyes briefly flicked to where the Headmaster was avidly watching him. "Now, if you would excuse me, I need to walk Ginny to class." Harry stood up, helped Ginny out of her seat, and pulled her to him before crashing his mouth down on to hers. He wanted to make absolutely sure that both Cho and Dumbledore knew where his heart was.
What started out as a kiss to prove a point, quickly morphed into something else, and it was only Cho stomping away in anger that brought Harry's attention back to the fact that they were still standing in the middle of the Great Hall. He smiled sheepishly down at Ginny, who merely raised one delicate eyebrow in response.
"Remus, please come in." Dumbledore gestured to a chair in front of his desk. "What did you learn from Harry?"
Keeping his expression neutral, Remus began. "He's not particularly happy with you at the moment." Dumbledore nodded his acknowledgment; he had been expecting that. "He said that he is angry at your manipulations of him, and that he will no longer be a pawn in your game."
Dumbledore sighed. "He can't see that I only want what is best for him."
Remus fought to keep his anger off his face. "He also seems to be quite attached to Ginny, and shows no inclination to give her up."
Dumbledore shook his head. "That is dangerous. His feelings may very well get her killed. And he doesn't have time for the distraction posed by a romantic entanglement. He needs to focus on more important things right now." Remus did not respond. "Did he mention training?"
"Yes. He has acquired an untraceable wand, and spent much of the summer training himself." Remus was loath to give him this information, but it was unavoidable. It would come out shortly that Harry had another wand, and Harry thought it more prudent to allow Remus to share this information. It strengthened Dumbledore's belief that the Marauder was still on his side.
Dumbledore looked up in surprise. "That explains much. Do you know where he got it from?"
"No. He wouldn't say. However, he has requested my assistance in training him."
"I had hoped to train him myself."
Remus raised an eyebrow. "I think that wouldn't be the best idea. He is more likely to hex you than listen to you right now. I can help him, and I plan to bring in Tonks and Bill Weasley to help me. Maybe I can even talk Mad-Eye into helping. That should be sufficient for the time being."
Dumbledore appeared deep in thought. "I want you to be careful with him, Remus. You must not get too close to him. Teaching him is fine, but it would be dangerous for anyone to try and step into Sirius' role in his life right now."
Remus' jaw clenched, but he merely nodded. Harry had warned him that Dumbledore might say something like that. "I'll begin working with him this week."
"Please let me know how it goes, Remus, and inform me if you think Harry might accept my help."
With a stiff nod, Remus got up and left the room. He really wanted to hex the man, but now was not the time. Still brooding about things, he barely noticed as he made his way to the Three Broomsticks and flooed home. When he arrived he sent a short note.
The old man fell for it. Beware for the little lady. We'll begin next week at the appointed place and time.
A week after the start of school, posters appeared in the four common rooms announcing a Defense Against the Dark Arts study group run by Harry Potter. It asked all those wanting information to talk to Harry personally. (Ginny was thrilled that Cho did not return to ask Harry about it.) Harry was extremely busy over the next several days, as a flood of people wanted to talk to him. He took the time to speak to each one personally, and explained the purpose of the group. If they wished to join he handed over a contract for them to sign. Once signed, he handed them a small pendant necklace. It was a simple leather cord with a galleon hanging from it, but it had several charms placed on it. Harry had recast the Protean Charm, so that he could alert members to meetings. The pendant would warm when the numbers were changed. In addition, he added several new features. The cords were charmed so that only the owners could remove them. The pendants themselves were emergency portkeys that could be activated by saying 'Legion Sanctuary' and would deposit them, and anyone they were holding, at the gates of Hogwarts. And they would alert all members to danger with the phrase 'Legion to the Rescue'.
Harry was pleasantly surprised by the number of students wanting to join the new Legion. All of the old DA members, with the exception of Cho and Marietta Edgecombe, signed up. But there were many new members, particularly among the older students. Most shocking of all, were the three Slytherin students that cornered Harry one day. They were wary of him, but didn't hesitate to sign the contracts. Harry spent several days watching Blaise Zabini and the Greengrass sisters afterwards, and was confident that they really did want to fight for the light. Of course, he had his work cut out for him convincing Ron not to antagonize them.
He was slightly disappointed with the new Defense teacher. Dumbledore hired a German Auror named Schulze. The man knew a decent amount of defense, but he was only an adequate teacher. Harry had already been called on twice to demonstrate spells in class. But the lack in class had the added bonus of encouraging more students to join the Legion. Harry largely ignored the man.
It was a Saturday morning that found Harry pacing in the middle of the seventh floor. When the door to the Room of Requirements opened, he stepped inside curiously. The room was larger than the one they had used last year, and he liked what he saw. There were weapons lining one wall, and armor another. One wall was filled with wall-to-wall bookshelves that Harry was sure Hermione would be salivating over shortly. There was a large pile of cushions in one corner, and a raised dais along one side of the room. He could make out the outline of dueling circles on the floor, and he smiled. Those should help keep spells from accidentally hurting someone. Taking a deep breath, he walked in and withdrew Godric's wand. He cast a series of wards on the door that would allow him to detect the entrance of anyone who hadn't signed a contract, and he sat down to wait.
It wasn't long before people began trickling in. His close friends were first, and Harry rolled his eyes as Hermione quickly made her way to the books. Ron and Neville were examining the dueling circle, while Ginny and Luna talked. As more and more people arrived, Harry's nervousness started to show, and Ginny abandoned her conversation and came to stand by him instead. She took his hand in hers gently.
"You are going to do great, Harry. You are the best defense teacher I have ever had. There is nothing for you to worry about."
"But this is different, Gin. Last year I was just teaching stuff so that we could pass our exams. I'm not going to use that excuse this year."
"You're right. We are at war, and we need to be prepared. But Harry, there is no one better suited to prepare us than you."
Harry looked up at her, smiling weakly. He only hoped he earned her faith in him.
By the time 2 o'clock rolled around, there were nearly a hundred students waiting for him to start. With a wave of his wand (holly, this time) the door shut and disappeared into the wall. He stood up and the room went silent.
"Um… welcome everyone. This is the group formerly known as Dumbledore's Army. For various reasons, I think a change in name is necessary. I'd like us to be known as the Hogwarts Legion, or the Legion for short. Because that is what we will be fighting for, Hogwarts herself." Harry cleared his throat and took a deep breath. His confidence rose. "Last year, we were concerned with being prepared for our exams, and learning what Umbridge refused to teach us. And while that was well and good, it was too sheltered." As he looked around he tried to make eye contact with as many people as possible. "Voldemort is back." The room tensed at the name, but Harry ignored it. "And he is not going to wait for us to finish school before he attacks. Whether you are attacked at home, at school, or while doing your shopping, there will come a time when you will have to fight for your life. This year, I intend to teach you enough so that you might win that fight."
He paused, letting his words sink in. The people in front of him looked serious and ready, and he was grateful. "This is not going to be an easy study group that you participate in for fun. I will work you hard, and I will expect time and dedication. If this is not what you want, they I suggest you get out now." No one got up, though there were several students who squirmed in their seats. "I will teach you dueling—hand-to-hand, weapon, and magical. I will teach you healing that may save your life or the life of a friend in a fight. And most importantly, I will teach you to protect your mind from those who would seek to use you against your will."
There were several gasps in the audience, and one brave fourth year Ravenclaw put up her hand. "Yes?"
"Does that mean you will be teaching us to resist the Imperius curse?"
"I'm going to try. But there are other things as well. I will be teaching you a branch of magic called Occlumency. This will enable you to protect your mind from those attempting to read it by magical means, and it will help your ability to resist curses such as the Imperius." Harry jumped up onto the dais so that he could be seen, and sank down to the floor. "Everyone find a seat. We are going to spend the rest of today learning the basics of Occlumency. I will avoid teaching you any of the powerful magic I know until I can be sure that it is protected, so you will need to master this first."
The day after the first Legion meeting was the first day that Harry and Ginny found any time to sneak away on their own. After a not very brief detour in a broom cupboard along the way, they made their way into the library and began looking for books that might help them understand the binding spell they were sealed under.
They didn't have much luck.
Dobby had provided them with the name of the ceremony, but they couldn't find any reliable source on it. Many books mentioned it, but only in passing. The ceremony had not been performed for centuries, and there were no documented cases of its effects. The only thing they were able to find was a reference to a book on the ceremony itself, a book that was said to be restricted by the Ministry and only available to Unspeakables. Evidently, performing the bond required such a large amount of power that no one had been capable of it in hundreds of years. However, they found several anecdotes that claimed to be about their ceremony. They said that couples who had undergone it often developed an empathic connection. This connection sometimes manifested itself in a sharing of magical power.
Frustrated with the lack of resources, the couple made their way out on to the grounds where they could talk undisturbed.
"I don't know how we are ever going to find out about this, Gin." Harry ran his free hand through his hair in frustration. "And it doesn't even make any sense how it was performed. How would a wand, on its own, be able to perform a binding ceremony that no living wizard can? I mean, it somehow asked Dobby to stand as witness. That doesn't even make any sense."
Ginny walked thoughtfully for several minutes. "I agree that it is confusing, which simply means that we don't have enough information to understand. We will figure out about our binding, even if we have to live through it first. I don't see any negative repercussions from it, and we already know the legal significance. Everything else we can figure out later." She gave his hand a squeeze. "But there must be something else going on with your wand. The only thing I can think of it is that it is somehow sentient."
Harry looked down at her. "Like the Sorting Hat, maybe?"
"Precisely. We know that Godric made the Hat, it is quite feasible that he used the same type of magic to infuse the wand with the ability to reason and act on its own." She thought for several minutes. "Didn't you tell me that there were sometimes this summer when it seemed like the wand was teaching you how to do a spell, instead of the other way around?"
"Yeah, I guess you could say that. And I've noticed that there are several spells I know how to do with Godric's wand that I can't reproduce at all with my holly wand. I would expect a difference, at least in the power level between them, but not that much of one." He thought about it carefully. "That does kind of make sense."
"I wish we could talk to Hermione about this."
"Because I'm fairly certain that wand knows an awful lot, and I have no idea how to access it. Somehow we have to figure out how, and it would be so much easier with her help."
Harry grinned. "True, but I'm sure she would have something to say about that whole messy consequence thing Dad mentioned if we tried to talk to her about this."
Ginny laughed softly. "Yes, I'm sure she would." She tugged on his hand and pulled him to a stop. "Can we be done talking now?"
Harry smirked down at her. "Why, Mrs. Potter, what did you have in mind?"
She took his hand and wrapped it carefully around her waist, then wrapped her own arms around his neck and wound her fingers into his thick hair. "All this practical talk, don't you know that you're supposed to show your wife a good time?"
He pulled her tightly against him and lowered his head until his lips were brushing against hers. "If you insist."
A/N: Thanks to all those who pointed out the need for Harry to cast the protection spell on Ginny. I've put that in for you.
As always, thoughts and ideas are appreciated…
It was the third Sunday in September, and Harry was quite pleased with the progress of the Legion. They had been working hard, and already he could see vast improvement. Many already had passable Occlumency shields, and he had started to show them some of the spells he had learned this summer. Harry had also introduced physical training. Ron had grumbled when Harry suggested they start waking up early to go on a run and work out, but once Hermione mentioned how it might even help his Quidditch game Ron was all for it. (It had helped that several of the girls had giggled madly at the thought of the extra training and the benefits that would come from it.) Today they had been working on an advanced shielding charm, and about half of the Legion had already got some results with the spell. Harry smiled as he watched his troops work on the spell.
Harry glanced down at his watch, and then called a halt. "Okay, everyone. That spell is looking pretty good for today. Try and keep working on it, and I'll see you guys next week."
Several members called goodbye to him as they left the room. He smiled as he watched then leave. He was quite pleased to see members from different houses talking as they walked. Even the Slytherin members were included. Susan Bones was talking with Blaise Zabini, and Terry Boot was talking to Daphne Greengrass and her sister.
A small pair of hands wrapped around his waist. "They're coming together."
He looked down at her. "Yes. I only hope it will be enough."
"It will be. You'll see."
He pressed a kiss on the top of her head, then his smile turned to a smirk. "Care for a duel?"
She grinned. "Swords?"
Harry stepped away from her and held out his hand. Seconds later Godric's sword materialized there. Ginny closed her eyes and concentrated and a minute later the room developed a wall of armor and weaponry. She strolled over and carefully selected a sword to use. After testing to make sure the balance was right she turned around and faced him.
The sound of metallic clashing filled the room as the two came together repeatedly. Neither of them noticed when the door opened and a pretty Asian girl walked it. She stopped short at the sight of the two teens in front of her as they danced around each other and fought.
"Harry?" She called tentatively.
Hearing his name caused Harry to lose focus for a few precious seconds, and Ginny took full advantage. She swung her sword in until the tip rested against his heart. Harry froze, his chest heaving.
"Good one, Gin." He smiled at his wife, and she lowered her sword with a small flourish. Then the couple turned to the intruder.
"Did you need something, Cho?" Harry's voice was clipped.
"Um… I wanted to talk to you about joining the DA."
With a resigned sigh, Harry vanished his sword. He turned to Ginny and whispered for her only, "I think we need to take care of this once and for all. Stay with me?"
Ginny nodded. She went to put her sword away, then turned back around, her arms crossed in front of her.
"I don't think it would be wise for you to join the Legion, Cho?" Harry began.
"No." He said fiercely. "I want you to listen to me. The only reason you want to join is because of me. And that is not its purpose. I want people who are willing to fight. I want people who understand that we are at war and that there are more important things than school work and crushes. And that isn't you, Cho." She made to interrupt again, but Harry held up a hand to stop her. "Look, I know that we went out last year, but I want to explain something to you. I am never going to be with you again. It's time you realized that and moved on with your life."
Cho looked to be on the verge of tears. "But why? We were so good together."
"Are you insane? Do you remember how horrible it was? We went on one date and it was a bloody disaster. You spent most of the time crying and I spent most of the time trying to think of something we might have in common." Harry paused to take a calming breath. "I'm with Ginny, and I will be for the rest of my life. I love her, and nothing you say can ever change that."
Cho could no longer hold back her tears. Feeling some compassion for the girl, despite what she had tried to do, Ginny stepped forward and put a hand on her shoulder. "Cho, was there a reason you kept on trying to get back together with Harry?"
Cho nodded. "He told me… after Cedric died, he told me that Cedric's death was pointing me towards who I was meant to be with. That it had prepared me to be with you. He told me that you needed me in your life to teach you how to love, because no one had loved you before. He told me…"
At this point Cho completely broke down. Ginny wrapped her arms around the older girl and pulled her into a hug. "It's okay, Cho. We understand." Ginny looked up at Harry who was standing there, his arms hanging limply by his side and a defeated look on his face. She knew how much it hurt him every time they discovered another example of the Headmaster's treachery. "Cho, I think you need to understand what is going on. Harry, tell her the truth."
"Are you sure, Gin?" He looked desperate to avoid this discussion, knowing how much it would hurt the older girl.
"Yes. She needs to know so that she can move on." Harry could feel the determination coming off of her, and he was not one to deny her.
Harry nodded. With a wave of his wand a large couch appeared. He and Ginny led Cho over and helped her sit down in between them. "I'm assuming you were talking about the Headmaster?" Cho nodded. "For reasons which I'm not going to get into, he has spent the last several years trying to keep me away from Ginny. He knew I would fall in love with her, and he wanted to prevent that."
Harry sighed. "I'm sorry, Cho, but I can't tell you. It would put you in too much danger to know this. Suffice it to say that he was desperate, and in his desperation he decided to redirect my attention." The Ravenclaw's eyes grew big. "He fed me a mild love potion from the beginning of my third year that aimed any romantic intentions I may have had at you."
Cho gasped. "Then, you never really did like me, did you?"
"No, I don't think so. Unfortunately, I didn't really realize something was wrong until this summer. With Hermione's help we were able to discover what he had done, and prevent it from ever working again." Harry looked down at the pretty girl beside him. "I'm sorry, Cho. You were pulled into something that hurt you and for that I am sorry. He should never have done that to you."
Cho looked at him closely for several long minutes. Then Harry watched as her face changed. No longer was she the insecure girl she had been. "Do you mean to tell me that he kept me from healing, that he manipulated me, all for some idiotic reason of his own?" There was steel in her voice.
"Yes." It was Ginny who answered this time. "He thought he knew best, that it was better for Harry and me not to fall in love. But he failed to realize that he was actually harming the cause he thought he was fighting for."
Cho angrily wiped away her tears. Then she fixed Harry with a hard gaze. "I want to join the Legion."
Harry grinned. "We'd be delighted to have you."
"Mr. Potter," came Professor McGonagall's voice, "the Headmaster needs to see you in his office after dinner."
Harry looked up at the stern professor. He had been happily eating dinner and quietly conversing with Ginny, and had no clue what he had done to warrant a trip to the Headmaster's office. "Just me, Professor?"
"Yes, just you. The password is Butterfinger."
As Professor McGonagall walked away, Harry turned to meet Ginny's concerned gaze. They couldn't talk freely in the Great Hall, but it was obvious they were both thinking the same thing. Dumbledore was going to try and separate them again.
"It will be alright, Gin." He cupped her cheek and she turned into his hand. "We have a back-up plan."
"I know, love." She reached up a hand and tapped gently against his head. "Are you ready?"
He nodded. His Occlumency shields were even stronger than the last time the Headmaster had tried to breach them. "Wait for me in the Room of Requirements?"
Ginny nodded. She understood the implication. If things went badly he wanted her protected until he could get back to her.
Abandoning their dinners, they held hands for the remaining dinner time. The physical connection brought into sharp relief the other's emotions, something that had been happening more and more since their return to school. When Harry saw Dumbledore leave his seat, he rose to follow. "I'll be fine, Gin. I love you." He brought her left hand up and kissed her hidden ring as a silent reminder. She smiled at him and watched as he walked out of the room, his head held high.
As he rode the stairs up to the Headmaster's office, he checked his shields once more. He also took out Godric's wand and cast a new charm that Hermione had found. It would nullify any attempt to place a tracking charm on him for the next hour. He only hoped it was enough. Taking one last deep breath he knocked on the door.
"Come in, Harry."
Harry entered the office and was grateful to see that there was no one else there. The meant the Headmaster wasn't yet taking any drastic actions. Before he acknowledged the man behind the large desk Harry walked up and greeted Fawkes. When he had spent several moments petting the brilliant bird he turned. "Good evening, Headmaster. Professor McGonagall said you wished to see me?"
"Yes, Harry. Why don't you have a seat?"
"I prefer to stand, thank you."
Dumbledore acknowledged this with a nod. "I wish to speak to you about your training."
Harry looked at him in shock. Was this meeting really not about Ginny, or was he simply trying to distract him? "As I have informed you, I have taken care of my training myself."
"Yes. I'm aware of the fact that you have been working with Remus Lupin. I would like to offer you more resources."
"I have no wish to train with you, sir."
"I imagined as much. No, I have requested that Tonks, Kinsley, and Mad-Eye all offer their services to you. It is imperative that you learn from more than one teacher, as everyone has a unique fighting style." Harry's eyes widened at this. He knew that this was another way for Dumbledore to keep an eye on him, but he could work around it. He really would be grateful for the extra training. "In addition, I have several books that I would like for you to read. I think you will find many useful spells in them."
Dumbledore waved a hand to a stack of books on his desk. Harry stepped forward and examined them. Of the ten or so books there he had already read three of them. These he placed in a separate pile. The rest looked fairly interesting. He drew his wand, holly, and shrunk them before placing them in his pocket. "The books are much appreciated."
"Do you not wish to take these?" Dumbledore gestured towards the ones he had left behind.
"I've already read them, sir."
Dumbledore wasn't able to hide his shock. "Where did you find a copy of these books? They are all on the Ministry's restricted list."
Harry looked at him blandly. "I've never set much store by Ministry restrictions."
Dumbledore smiled at this.
"Was there anything else, sir?"
"No, Harry. I really do just want to help you."
Harry schooled his features not to react to this. He may not understand what the man was trying to accomplish today, but he was not fooled into thinking that Dumbledore had changed his ways. "I thank you for the books. I will return them when I have read them. Good day, sir."
Draco Malfoy strutted into the Slytherin common room, his left hand clutched around a letter from his father. The elder Malfoy had been quite pleased when his son had told him of the new relationship between Potter and the Weasley girl. He had given his son explicit instructions to try and seduce the girl away from Potter. Not only would this hurt Potter, but they might gain useful information from her. Draco was quite confident in his plan. After all, who could resist a Malfoy? He had always gotten any girl he wanted, and he saw no reason why that shouldn't be true in this case. At least she was a pureblood. And beautiful. He would not mind bedding her. Now he just needed to get her alone so that he could work his charm.
His mind skipped ahead in the plan to when he would be able to enjoy her. He envisioned it in his head, and felt his body reacting to the image. With that thought in mind, he prepared for bed, looking forward to the dreams he was sure to have about her.
It did not take him long to fall asleep, and as expected a scantily clad Ginny Weasley walked into his dream. Dream Draco pulled her into his arms and lowered his head to kiss her. The kiss was intensely pleasurable, as the girl was more skilled with her tongue than Pansy. He opened his eyes in eager anticipation of undressing her.
Instead of seeing the alluring form of Ginny Weasley, he was wrapped in the arms of Eddie Carmichael, a Ravenclaw student a year above him.
Draco's mind tried to pull away in disgust, but his dream body would not allow it. He tried every technique he knew to wake himself up, and it wouldn't work. He watched, horrified, as Carmichael pulled him in and kissed him again.
Twenty minutes later Draco Malfoy woke up panting and confused. He reached quickly for his wand and cast a cleaning charm. He had not had such a dream in years; not since he had found that there were plenty of willing girls to help him release his sexual energy. And yet here he was having such a dream about a boy. And it was impossible to deny that his body had enjoyed it. Disgusted with himself, Draco lay back down and tried to fall back asleep, desperately hoping that he wouldn't have the same dream again. He was supposed to be seducing the Weasley girl. He wanted to dream about her.
Draco woke up twice more throughout the night, each time after having the same vivid dream, and with the same result. The next day, he passed Carmichael in the hall. When the boy smiled at him, Draco's face went white and he fled in the opposite direction.
"Harry?" Ron asked hesitantly one night as they were getting ready for bed.
"I need some advice."
Harry stopped what he was doing and turned towards his friend. "About what?"
Ron took a deep breath, sat down on his bed and let his head fall into his hands. "Girls."
Harry sat down on his own bed and gave his full attention to Ron. "What about them? And why do you assume I have any clue?"
"Well, you were able to do pretty well with Ginny."
"I guess. It took me long enough." Harry chose not to point out that he had an unfair advantage when it came to Ginny. After all, they had been married by a magical artifact and given an empathic connection into her thoughts and feelings. A connection he was only now starting to understand.
"Yeah." Ron sighed.
"So you finally came to your senses about her, have you?" There was no need to ask exactly who Ron was talking about.
Ron looked up, startled. "How did you know?"
"Ron, you've been in love with Hermione for years. Everyone knows this but the two of you."
"So, you've finally realized that you like her?"
"Yeah. But I have no clue what to do about it. I mean, what if she doesn't feel the same way?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Ron, I'd bet the entire contents of my vault that she feels the exact same way. Why do you think you two argue so much?"
Ron looked up, wide-eyed, as if he couldn't fathom that Harry was telling the truth. Then a slow smile spread across his face. "Really?" Harry simply nodded. "Wow." He stared off for several minutes processing that, a rather dreamy expression on his face. "But what do I do about it?"
"Well, I suggest that you start by letting her know how you feel."
"Harry! I can't just tell her I fancy her!" Ron looked scandalized at the mere suggestion.
"That would be too embarrassing!"
"Fine. Then do little things to let her know you are interested. And try to stop arguing with her all the time. It's probably giving her the wrong idea." Harry didn't add that the entire tower would be grateful for the reprieve.
Ron considered this. "You mean like the stuff you did with Ginny before you asked her out?"
"Exactly. I paid attention to her. I complimented her. I was overly affectionate."
"I could do that."
"Course you can. Nothing wrong with a little flirting."
Ron smiled widely. "Nothing wrong at all."
Hermione sat down in her seat for breakfast with a slightly bemused expression on her face. It had been an interesting couple of days. Ronald had been paying her an inordinate amount of attention recently. He wasn't fighting with her. He went out of his way to compliment her. He even seemed to be finding excuses to touch her. Maybe he was finally coming to his senses about her and growing up. She hoped it meant that he would ask her out soon.
She looked up as Ron sat down beside her. "Hello, Hermione. You look good today."
She raised an eyebrow at him. "Thank you, Ronald. That's very sweet of you."
He turned and beamed at her.
Across from them, Harry watched with amusement. Ron seemed to be doing pretty well. And by the expression on Hermione's face, she understood his intentions. Now if his mate could only work up the courage to actually ask her out. Watching Ron stutter through an attempt to compliment her on her Transfiguration essay, Harry decided that it might be awhile until that happened.
Before he knew it, it was the middle of November. The Legion had been making great progress, and Harry was proud of their ability to work together. He had them running mock drills in various surroundings provided by the Room of Requirements, and they had been doing surprisingly well. His own training had also progressed nicely. Remus came twice a week to work with him on his spell work. Then on Saturday morning he worked with whomever else Remus could talk into coming to help. Tonks came regularly and was teaching him martial arts. Kingsley was working with him on his sword training. The Auror had been intrigued when he asked about learning to fight with one, though Harry never fought with his own sword against the man. The Order thought the mysterious fighter from Diagon Alley had claimed Gryffindor's sword, and he didn't want to reveal his hand too early. Harry had the most fun in his training sessions when Moody came. The grizzled ex-Auror was the only one of his trainers who was capable of winning a duel with Harry anymore, and Harry relished the chance to work with him.
One Thursday afternoon, Remus showed up with a surprise visitor.
"Bill!" Harry exclaimed in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
"Remus seems to think I could help with your training." The eldest Weasley boy sent a smirk at Remus. "Although seeing as how you trounced my arse months ago I don't know why he thinks that."
Remus laughed. "I don't want you to duel him. Harry has others who have been helping him with that. However, you have skills that I think would be of value to him." Bill raised an eyebrow in question as Harry looked on curiously. "I have no doubt that there will come a time when Harry will have to break into a heavily warded area. I want you to teach him how."
Bill's grin was almost feral. "You want me to teach him how to break wards? Excellent!" Bill paused in thought for several minutes. "I'm going to have to set up some things for us to practice on."
"Um, the room should be able to do that for you." Harry spoke up.
Bill looked at him curiously. "What do you mean?"
"This is a highly magical room," Remus answered. "If you simply think of what you need it should provide it for us."
Bill looked highly skeptical, but he closed his eyes in concentration. Harry watched in fascination as several doors appeared along one wall. As he watched, each door was covered briefly in a faint shimmering, each one a different color.
"Okay, Harry. I'm going to start by teaching you the basic detection spells that will allow you to find out which types of wards are put up around an area. Each ward has a distinctive magical signature. You will need to learn to recognize these, as well as the ways they can be layered together."
Harry was an avid student for the next several hours. Bill was a good teacher, and the techniques he was explaining were fascinating. By the end of the night, Harry had been handed a large stack of books to read, and Bill had produced a list for him of common wards and instructed Harry to learn the way to counter them.
It was shortly after night fell that things got interesting. Anxious to be on good terms with Ginny's brother, Harry had asked Bill to stay for a cup of tea. They had been sitting and talking agreeably for several minutes when a silver fox exploded into the room. It spoke in a woman's voice that Harry's didn't recognize to Bill.
"Attack in Abernethy. Requesting all assistance."
The fox dissipated, and Bill jumped from his seat.
"Bloody hell! It is going to take me a good fifteen minutes to get outside of the school. Harry, I've got to go!"
Harry put a restraining hand on his shoulder. "I can get us there faster."
Bill froze and turned to stare at him. "I'm not letting you go with me, Harry."
"You don't really have a choice. And this wouldn't be the first time."
Harry stood his ground as Bill scrutinized him, then Bill's shoulders slouched. "I doubt I could stop you. Just don't get hurt or I'll have hell to play with Ginny and my mom."
Harry grinned. "I don't plan on it. And your mom will never know I was there." He waved his wand a few times and Bill watched as Harry became unrecognizable. "Dobby!"
"Master?" the elf asked as he popped into the room.
"I need you to take Bill and myself to Abernethy. Then come back and tell Ginny where we've gone."
"Yes, Master. Mistress will be most displeased in being left behind again."
Harry grinned. "I know."
The elf held out two hands, and then disapparated with a large crack. They reappeared behind a large building. In the distance, Harry could hear the distinctive sound of spell fire. He turned to Bill. "Be careful." Bill nodded his acknowledgement. Harry watched as he stalked off carefully towards the fight. Once Bill was out of sight Harry held out his hand and called for his sword. He tied the sheath carefully around his waist, threw his cloak over his shoulders, then drew his wand and walked calmly forward. It was time to go hunting.
He quickly found a group of six Death Eaters who were making their way down a side street, setting fire to houses as they passed. Harry followed them quietly, putting out the fires. When he caught up to them he fired off a round of stunners that managed to catch two of them. The others turned around quickly, searching for their invisible adversary. Harry made his way around them and fired from behind, knocking out two more. It was then that one of the remaining Eaters got off a lucky shot that found his invisible form, cutting across his leg.
Biting back a scream of pain, Harry followed up with an anger-filled set of stunners. He pulled back the cloak so he could get a good look at his leg, and was grateful that Ginny had insisted he learn several healing spells. The cut was quickly healed, and the Death Eaters bound under a disapparation jinx. Harry summoned their wands and portkeys, and left them for the Order to find later.
Moving swiftly towards the center of town, Harry came upon the main fight. Spells were flying across the town square and things didn't look good. From what he could see, the Order members were outnumbered nearly two to one. Harry paused to consider his options. He would have preferred to take out the Eaters quickly, but they were too spread out and the Order was too close for that to work. He also was worried about the Order trying to fire on him. He needed to act like someone they knew was on their side, so he drew his cloak off, passed his wand to his left hand, and drew his sword. He was confident that Moody had informed the order of the rogue young man who had fought with Gryffindor's sword. Hopefully they would recognize it and realize he was on their side.
With a deep calming breath, Harry jumped into the fight.
The Death Eaters were not expecting his physical attack, and few of them knew how to fight him. He kept a shield up at all times, blocking most of their spells. The Unforgivables were cut in half with a swipe of the sword. This usually seemed to shock the caster enough to give Harry time to attack. He went mainly for wand arms, knowing that the Eaters would be incapacitated without being able to use their only weapon. Within ten minutes he had made his way around half the square, and the Eaters were starting to rally against him, recognizing that he was their main opponent.
Harry was hiding behind a crumbled wall trying to catch his breath near several Order members when a pop announced a new arrival.
Harry looked up curiously as he heard the spell fire come to an abrupt halt. The Eaters halted their attack. They focused on shields and circled around the central figure. Harry's stomach turned to stone as he recognized the man that had appeared, a gleaming sword in his hand.
"I offer a challenge to our mysterious swords man--a proper duel." The oily voice of Lucius Malfoy rang out through the square.
A hand descended on Harry's shoulder and he looked up into the sweaty face of Bill Weasley. "Get out of here now. That pretty girlfriend of yours would have my hide if I let you fight him."
Harry's face hardened. "On the contrary. Lucius and I have some unfinished business to attend to."
Harry stood up and walked confidently out into the square. "You called?"
Malfoy laughed. "A mere boy? You think you can challenge me? Run on home to your mother, boy. Leave the fighting to the grownups."
Harry glared at the man who had nearly cost Ginny her life. "Not a chance, Malfoy. I've been looking forward to this for years. We have some unfinished business to finish."
The blond sneered. "What are you talking about, boy? Did I hurt Mummy or Daddy?"
"No. You nearly killed my wife."
Harry ignored the outraged cry from Bill behind him as he attacked; he would deal with Bill later. Malfoy was an expert swordsman, and Harry's skill was immediately put to the test. Malfoy drew first blood, as he sliced across Harry's left arm, but Harry's sword was there to prevent further damage. He retreated two steps to regroup, wishing that he wasn't already tired before the duel even started. Harry pulled up the image of Ginny lying near death in the Chamber and his resolve hardened. This man was responsible for putting her there, and he would pay. Malfoy only allowed him a quick breath before attaching again, but the image of Ginny spurred him on. They fought back and forth for long minutes, trading the upper hand. Then Harry saw an opening, and a large gash appeared across Malfoy's abdomen. The man withdrew immediately, panting with effort.
"You are better than I expected, boy, but you are fighting on the wrong side. My Lord could have great use for you."
Harry scoffed. "I will never join Voldemort, no matter how many times he asks me to."
"Who are you?"
"What, don't you recognize me?"
"We have met before?"
Harry smirked. "Ah, Lucius, that hurts. We have so many fond memories together." Harry stalked forward. When he was two feet away from Malfoy he hissed so quietly that no one else could hear, "It was only five months ago that I thwarted you once again."
Malfoy's eyes widened in recognition and Harry used the man's shock to attack. He used a complicated flick of the wrist that Kinsley had only taught him last week to send Malfoy's sword flying. In an instant, Harry's wand was in his left hand and both wand and sword were resting against the man's heart. Harry leaned in and looked the man in the eye. "Don't worry, Malfoy. I'll send your master on to join you as soon as I can."
Harry gave a final push and the sword went clear through the man's heart. He whispered one parting comment. "This is for Ginny. May you rot in hell for what you did to her." Harry withdrew his sword and watched as the man who had caused Ginny so much pain collapsed and drew a ragged last breath.
It was only his instinctual reflexes that saved him from the retaliatory spells that immediately came his way.
The Order used the shock of Malfoy's death and the moment of the Eaters' attack on Harry to decimate most of the remaining forces. Only a handful of Eaters managed to apparated away. It was only seconds after the last crack that Remus made it to where Harry was kneeling next to Malfoy's body. Bill and Moody where only steps behind.
"Are you okay?" Remus asked as his arms came up to support an exhausted Harry.
Harry looked wearily up at his mentor. "Yeah. I'll be fine." He glanced briefly into Bill's confused face, and was grateful that his brother-in-law was keeping his questions to himself for the time being.
"That was some pretty fancy sword work there, boy." Moody growled.
"Thanks. I've learned from the best."
"Why don't you come with us so we can get you healed up?" Moody extended a hand to help him up.
"Thanks, but the wife should be able to handle it." Harry grinned. "That's assuming she stops yelling at me long enough to notice I'm bleeding."
Remus chuckled. "You did marry a fiery one. I'm sure she'll forgive you as soon as she learns what you did tonight."
Harry looked down at the body beside him. "Yes. He deserved a much more painful death than I gave him, that's for sure." Harry reached down and picked up his sword. "Help me over to the alley, Remus?"
Remus nodded. He helped Harry slowly stand and wrapped an arm around his waist. They walked slowly over to the alley until they were out of sight, and then Harry disappeared with Dobby.
Remus sighed before turning back to the square. He was met by the questioning gaze of Bill and Moody.
"You never mentioned you know that boy, Remus." Moody growled at him suspiciously.
Remus shrugged. "He's an old friend."
"Mind telling us who he is?"
"No, I don't think I will. He'll tell you when he's ready."
Moody stomped off in aggravation.
"Remus?" Bill asked tentatively. "Isn't he a little young to be married?" Bill's eyes burned into the werewolf's in question.
Remus winked at Bill. "He had to throw them off his identity somehow."
Bill eyed him carefully for a moment before nodding his agreement. Harry was probably just lying to disguise his age. There was no way that Ginny could be married. She was only fifteen.
"Harry James Potter!" Harry winced as Dobby brought them back into the Room of Requirements where Ginny was waiting. "Why didn't you take me with you? You could have been killed!"
"Sorry, love. You know they can still trace your wand." Ginny glared at him. "And besides, I was with Bill. You know he wouldn't have let you go off to fight."
"That is no excuse! You know perfectly well I've trained enough to be able to fight."
She stalked forward with her wand emitting sparks. Harry backed up, his eyes wide with fear as they watched her wand. Unfortunately, his unsteady legs gave out underneath him and he collapsed on the floor. Ginny's anger evaporated instantly.
"What happened? What's wrong?" Her wand was running along his frame as she spoke, finding the numerous cuts and bruises. She gasped as she found a particularly nasty cut on his left shoulder.
"Most of the Eaters were fighting the Order in the middle of the town square of Abernethy. It was too dangerous to try and take many out at once, as the Order members were in the way. So I made my way through the square with the sword."
Ginny harrumphed. "That explains all your cuts."
"Actually, most of them came later. They must have realized they needed to call someone with sword training, because Malfoy showed up with sword in hand." Ginny drew in a sharp breath but continued with her healing. "We fought for awhile."
Her hand clenched around her wand. "Did you get him?"
"Yes. He's gone."
Ginny's wand clattered to the floor and she threw her arms around his neck. She buried her head against his chest and whispered, "Thank you."
Harry wrapped his arms tightly around her. "No one will ever get away with hurting you."
Harry brought a hand up and gently pulled her chin up so he could see her face. Then he lowered his mouth to hers. His kiss was not deeply passionate, but the raw emotion in it set Ginny's heart racing. Their breath was ragged when he pulled away.
"I love you, Ginny Potter."
Ginny angrily wiped away her tears. "You better. Otherwise there is no way I would be able to put up with you." She reached down blindly for her wand. "Now stop making me cry. I need to heal the rest of you." She grinned cheekily at him. "You need to take off your shirt so I can fix that shoulder of yours."
Harry smirked at her. "You just want an excuse to see my bare chest."
She giggled. "Maybe. Now off with the shirt."
The next morning, Harry and Ginny were eating breakfast in the Great Hall when Dumbledore entered and instead of walking up to his seat at the Staff table he approached Harry.
"Mr. Potter. I need you to come with me, please."
Harry looked up, startled. Usually he was at least allowed to finish his meal. One look at Dumbledore's face, which was looking exceedingly grave, convinced him that the old man knew he had gone to fight last night.
"Certainly, sir." Harry turned to Ginny and planted a kiss on her cheek, "I'll see you later, love."
Her only response was to squeeze his hand gently in silent encouragement, conveying a surge of love and worry with that one gesture. Harry followed behind the Headmaster as they made their way to his office. Waiting for them inside were Moody, Snape, and Remus. Harry shot a look at Remus, but the Marauder simply shrugged. Once the door was shut behind him, Harry turned towards Dumbledore and waited.
"Harry, where were you yesterday evening?"
"I had training with Bill for most of the night. Remus was there for most of it."
"And where did you go after Mr. Weasley left?"
"I spent some time with Ginny." This was not a lie. He had spent a considerable amount of time with her. After the fight. Much of this time was spent with his shirt off and her hands on his bare chest. Harry smiled at the memory.
"You did not visit a village by the name of Abernethy?"
Harry plastered a puzzled expression on his face. "Where is Abernethy?"
Behind him, Harry heard Snape scoff. "It's obvious that he is dodging the question, Headmaster."
Harry turned towards the man. "Then why don't you ask me the question that you really want the answer to."
Snape sneered. "Have you been fighting Death Eaters recently?"
"I have been fighting Death Eaters and Voldemort my whole life, and I have no intention of stopping until they are all dealt with." Snape's eyes blazed at the implied message.
"Typical Potter. Think you can do everything on your own."
"I never said I would win this fight on my own. I simply said I will always be a part of it."
"And what makes you think you have the right to fight?"
"Severus! That's enough!" Harry turned his attention back towards Dumbledore. "Harry, you cannot leave the safety of the castle to participate in battles. It is imperative that you become fully trained first."
Harry's expression remained neutral. "You have no idea how trained I am, Headmaster."
Dumbledore's jaw clenched. "I have offered to help with your training."
"No, thank you. I'm doing just fine on my own."
"I'm sorry, Harry, but you cannot leave to fight. I am going to have to put you in detention with me."
"With all due respect, sir, you can't do that."
"Why not, Harry?"
"Because you have no proof whatsoever that I ever left the castle. I claim I spent the entire evening with Bill and then Ginny. Unless you can produce proof that I was at this fight, you have no grounds for assigning me detention."
Dumbledore eyed him carefully. "We have several eye witness accounts, Harry."
"They saw me, did they? And who are these witnesses?"
"Remus and Alastor were both there."
Harry hid his smirk and turned to Remus. "Did you see me last night, Remus?"
The Marauder smiled. "No, Harry. There was a young man who bears a slight resemblance to you, but I do not think it was you."
"And you, Moody, did you see me?"
"I saw you there."
"You saw me, a kid with black hair and green eyes and glasses."
Moody shifted uncomfortably. "No. You had glamours on."
"So you saw a kid about the same age as me, but that didn't really look like me and you all assume it was me? Seems a little farfetched." Harry turned his attention back to Dumbledore, who was looking decidedly unhinged at the direction this conversation was taking. "So until you can produce real evidence that I left the school you have no grounds for punishment, Headmaster."
"Harry…" Dumbledore began, but he was interrupted by a voice from one of the shelves.
"He's right, Headmaster." The occupants of the office turned in surprise to find the Sorting Hat speaking to them. "Punishment without proof can be appealed to the Board of Governors, as you well know."
Dumbledore sighed in resignation, and Harry fought to hide his smirk. "Fine. Harry, please do not leave the castle without permission. You can go now."
"Not quite yet," the Sorting Hat called. "Mr. Potter and I have business to take care of."
Harry and Dumbledore both turned curious gazes towards the Hat. "We do?"
"Quite. Surely you see the need for us to have a little chat about… certain things?"
The wand. The Hat knew that he had the wand, and suddenly Harry wondered if it could help him access the knowledge contained in it. "Of course." He looked around warily. He really didn't want this conversation witnessed.
"Perhaps you could put me on, Mr. Potter?"
"Is that really necessary?" Dumbledore asked.
"Oh, yes. I'm afraid I have to insist."
"Very well. Harry, why don't you put the Hat on and see what he wants."
Harry walked forward and lifted the Hat off its shelf. He lowered it on his head.
Good day, Mr. Potter.
Hello. Thank you for keeping this private.
Albus may be a powerful force for good, but that does not mean he always knows what is best. Now, I understand you found my wand?
Not quite. I am an imprint of him, and retain much of his knowledge and personality. Much like a magical portrait.
The wand is something similar, isn't it?
Yes. That wand contains much of my knowledge, and even a bit of my power. And I see that you have already put some of this to good use.
Yes, it has been most helpful. But I get the feeling that I should be able to directly access the knowledge it contains somehow. Only I can't figure out how.
Correct. The wand is different from me in one very special way. My knowledge is outside and I can interact with those around me to a certain degree, the wand cannot truly do this. I will teach you how to transfer the imprint of myself that was left in the wand.
So I can make a portrait or something?
Not quite. You will transfer the imprint directly into yourself.
Now listen carefully, Mr. Potter.
The other occupants of the office watched curiously as Harry put the Sorting Hat on his head and then seemed to be having an internal discussion with it. This discussion went on for some time.
"Whatever can the Hat be telling the boy?" Snape asked after several long minutes.
"I have no idea, Severus. And the fact that it insisted on a private conversation concerns me. With Harry's mental shields we will never learn what they are discussing."
Moody looked shocked. "You would try to dig in the boy's mind for information?"
"Yes, Alastor. It is imperative that I know what is going on with Harry, for his own good."
"And what gives you the right to determine what is best for Harry, Albus?" The ex-Auror asked angrily. Remus remained quiet.
"There are things going on that you are not aware of, Alastor."
"And what makes you think you are aware of everything? Seems like Potter knows a whole heck of a lot more than he is letting on. And clearly that Hat is telling him something important. Maybe it's time you stop trying to run his life and let him alone. He seems to be doing a fairly good job of it."
"That is not possible."
"I don't think you'll find it as easy to control him as you think, Albus. He damn near beat me last time we dueled, and it will only be a short time before he is capable of beating you."
With that parting comment Moody stomped out of the office. Remus watched him go, thinking that Harry would be very interested to learn about this conversation.
Harry was currently sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Room of Requirements, which had provided him with a large fireplace and bearskin rug. He held his upturned hands in front of him, and resting on them was Godric's wand. The sword was resting across his knees. The Hat had drilled him on this ritual until he could recite it backwards in his sleep, as there was no going back if he made a mistake. It was an unusual ritual; Harry was used to spells being based in Latin but that was not the case. Godric had used his native Welsh. This made it difficult for Harry to learn the long spell, as he was not used to the pronunciation of Welsh words, but he had practiced until the Hat deemed his accent acceptable. With one last check to make sure everything was in order, Harry took a deep breath and began.
"Gwella fy meddwl y wybodaeth ar ôl i mi."
He felt a rush of knowledge into his mind, and suddenly he understood what he had said. Enhance my mind with the knowledge left for me.
"Cyfuno fy meddwl â'r un yma."
His head split open in pain, and he struggled to remain in his position. There was a burning sensation along his scar, and it felt as if half of him was being harshly torn out. But it was over quickly, and then came blessed relief. In place of the ever-present ache in his scar, he now felt something entirely different; there was a presence there that was comforting and at the same time exhilarating. Combine my mind with the one here.
"Gadewch i ni bellach yn ddwy, ond yn un."
He felt, rather than saw, a brilliant flash of light explode around him, and it filled him with bravery and a near reckless desire to do good. Let us no longer be two, but be one.
With the completion of the ritual, Harry's strength gave out and he collapsed to the floor, one hand clenched around the wand and the other wrapped tightly around the pommel of the sword.
He awoke some time later to find his head placed in Ginny's lap and her fingers lightly brushing through his hair. He blinked open his eyes and looked up to see her peering down at him with her fiery hair surrounding her face.
Harry was awestruck, and words came pouring out of his mouth without conscious thought. "Thou art fairer in face, in thy flesh and thy skin, thy proportions, thy complexion, and thy port than all others. Thou loveliest lady here on me glance with eyes of brown; that I wot ever one more fair in sooth hath never been found."
Ginny stared down at him in awe for several minutes, shocked to hear the words coming out of his mouth. "Harry? What happened? You missed all of your classes today and when I came in a few minutes ago, you were passed out on the floor. And now you're spouting Old English love poetry at me."
Harry shook his head to clear it. This would take a lot of getting used to.
"I found out how to connect with the wand."
"I thought as much," she said softly. "It looks different now."
Harry sat up in shock and examined the wand in his hand. It looked the same at first glance. It still had the carvings around the handle, and the wood looked the same. It still had the small ruby embedded in the tip. But as he looked closely he found something new. Each individual lion and griffon had small emerald eyes now. Eyes the color of his own.
"That must have happened because of the ritual." He murmured quietly.
"Can you explain what you are talking about, please?"
"Oh, sorry Gin. When I was in Dumbledore's Office the Sorting Hat asked for a chat. It talked me through a ritual that would implant the imprint of Godric Gryffindor that was in the wand into my mind." Ginny's eyes widened in surprise. "I came back here to perform the ritual."
"So you have a portion of Godric Gryffindor in your head?"
"Yes, so it would seem. And during the ritual, something else happened, something was torn out of my head."
"The wand wasn't the only thing that changed, Harry."
"What do you mean?"
"Your scar," she said quietly as her hand caressed his forehead. "It's not a lightning bolt anymore. It's a flame."
Harry stared at her in shock. Then he thought about the searing pain in his head. He brought his hand up and pressed it against his head. There had always been a small amount of residual pain in his scar, but it was gone now.
"It's gone," he said softly. "I think my connection with Voldemort is gone." A smile broke out on his face. "Somehow my connection with Godric replaced my connection with Voldemort."
"That's wonderful, Harry!"
Ginny placed her small hands on either side of his face and pulled it down to her so she could place a tender kiss on his head. He brought his hand up and pulled her chin down so he could claim her mouth. It was several minutes before he pulled away.
"So does this mean you have all of Gryffindor's knowledge in your head right now?"
Harry frowned in concentration. "No, it doesn't seem like it. There are some things there, like how I can now understand Welsh…"
"And whatever it was that you said to me." She grinned at him.
"Yes," he smiled at her, "like that. It's like I have certain things tied to the characteristics that Godric prized." He paused in thought. "You know how in the Sorting Hat's song it always talks about the characteristics of the houses?" She nodded her head. "It always talks about bravery, daring, nerve, and chivalry for Gryffindor. I can feel more of that in me. I feel brave and strong. And the chivalry…" he looked up at her sheepishly, "that might explain some of the things running through my head when I look at you."
Ginny blushed slightly. He picked up her hand in his and played with her delicate fingers. "Those all sound like good things to me, Harry."
He smiled. "Yeah." He concentrated. "And there's something else there… like I know certain things but I just haven't accessed them yet."
"Maybe you have to learn it in pieces, or it will only come when you need it."
"Maybe. But either way, I don't think anything bad can come of this."
"Agreed." She squeezed his hand tightly. "Though we're going to have to cast a glamour to hide that new scar of yours."
A/N: I used an online translator for the Welsh, so if it is wrong I claim no responsibility. Also, the lines Harry quotes to Ginny are a modification of part of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as translated by JRR Tolkien. (Love him!)
I am a little unsure how to handle the Weasley parents in regards to the marriage when they eventually find out. Any ideas would be appreciated.
Harry Potter woke up screaming, grateful once again for the silencing charms around his bed. His dream had been a replay of all the worst moments of his life. Listening to his mother's dying words; Finding Ginny in the Chamber of Secrets; Cedric dying in the graveyard; Sirius falling through the veil. And then he would be fighting Malfoy again. Only this time, when he twisted the sword to end the Death Eater's life, he would look and find not Malfoy's hated face but a very different one. Ginny would be looking back at him with horror and betrayal.
Harry curled into a ball and sobbed. He couldn't get that image out of his head. He had been so happy to get rid of Malfoy. There were very few people that deserved death in Harry's opinion, but Lucius Malfoy had been near the top of his list. He had finally gotten revenge for Ginny's torment. Only it didn't feel very good to him anymore. The reality that he had killed someone was like a heavy weight on his back that he couldn't get rid of. What kind of man was he that he was happy to have killed someone? What did that make him? Was it only a matter of time until he turned into the next Voldemort?
His tears spent, Harry tried to push his emotions down and focus on something else. There was no way he would get back to sleep now, but he had a good three hours before anyone else woke up. Plenty of time to get some training done. It would take his mind off of things.
Draco Malfoy woke up panting. He didn't know what was wrong with him, but he had been unable to get rid of his dreams of Carmichael. It didn't help that based on the boy's shy smiles at him whenever he passed him in the hall Draco was fairly sure that Carmichael wouldn't mind bringing those dreams to life.
It was maddening, and he didn't know what to do. It would be so much easier if he didn't enjoy the dreams, as then he could pass it off as merely being the product of some curse that had been placed on him. But there was no denying the fact that his body enjoyed these dreams much more than the ones he occasionally still had about girls. And that was frightening. He knew very well what would happen if his mother learned of these dreams; he doubted he would live through the night. Despite his father's rather interesting history of sexual escapades, nothing like this was acceptable in a pureblood family such as his. Draco knew of his father's recent fate, but Narcissa Malfoy was nearly as proficient in the use of the Cruciatus Curse as her husband had been. In addition, the Dark Lord had already communicated with Draco that he was expected to take his father's place very soon. And the Dark Lord did not look kindly on such proclivities.
Resigned that his dreams didn't seem to be going away any time soon, Draco determined that the only way to get rid of them was to learn something about Carmichael. He was sure the boy was repulsive upon further acquaintance. That should help redirect his subconscious. If this didn't work, he would try more drastic measures. There were plenty of girls in this school who would be happy to be bedded by the head of the Malfoy family.
Trying to integrate his new found knowledge took up a great deal of Harry's time. Together with the time he already spent in training, Harry found himself with little time for his friends, or even his wife. Ron had yelled at him three times in the last two weeks for being late for Quidditch practice; Hermione was regularly getting on his case about being behind in his school work; and Harry had found himself yelling back, unable to understand why the smallest things seemed to set him off these days. But it wasn't until the first Friday night in December that all of this became apparent to Harry.
He was sitting in a corner of the Common Room, his body folded into a large armchair, and all his attention focused inwards. He had learned a way to communicate, for lack of a better word, with the imprint of Godric in his head. They didn't hold conversations, per se, but he found that if he pondered a subject, something usually came forward about it. This was generally the best way for him to learn Godric's memories. There had been a handful of times when something would pop into his head while he was dueling during training, but usually this was so disorienting he wasn't able to process it in enough time to make use of his new found knowledge. And so Harry had taken to long periods of meditation where he thought about as many things as he could to try and call forth that knowledge.
Harry was brought forcibly out of his mind by a rough slap across the back of his head.
He looked up in confusion to find an angry Ron standing over him.
"What did you do that for?" He asked angrily, rubbing the back of his head where a large knot was already forming. He could feel his anger rising within him to dangerous levels, and he fought to keep it down. It would do no good to curse his friend.
"Didn't I warn you that I would hurt you if you hurt my sister, Potter?" Harry was startled to see how angry Ron truly looked.
"What did I do? I haven't even seen her all night." His voice held irritation from being interrupted, but inside he was fighting for control. Why was he so angry?
"Precisely." Ron growled. "She was sitting next to you for the last fifteen minutes trying to get your attention. Something had her pretty upset and she could have used you. But no, you were lost in your own little world and completely ignored her."
Harry's anger rose. "I was working on something important, and she knows that." He was doing all of this for her, and she knew that. He had to be prepared.
"Oh, I'm sure she does. Just like all those times in the past couple of weeks you were working on something important and completely ignored her. She's been looking down for days. And then you ruddy ignore her when she's not two feet from you. You better have a bloody good reason, or I'm going to have to pound you for making my sister cry."
Harry's mouth fell open in shock. She had been crying? All his irritation and anger evaporated. With a jolt he realized that he really had been ignoring her recently. He had been so caught up in this new power and knowledge he hadn't taken any time to simply be with her. Of course she would feel neglected. And his own emotions had been in such turmoil he hadn't even noticed. With a groan he dropped his head into his hands and tugged angrily on his hair. How could he have done that to her? To the one person who always supported him?
"Well?" Ron pulled him out of his thoughts. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
Harry looked up dejectedly. "I don't know. I didn't realize what I was doing, I guess. I was just so caught up on working on something."
"And that something was more important than Ginny?"
"No," Harry answered in a small voice. "Nothing is more important than Ginny."
"Well," most of the anger had left Ron's voice, "then you had better find some way of letting her know that."
"Yeah." How could he have let it come to this? Making up his mind, he sprang out of his seat. "I'm probably going to be gone all night, mate."
"Hey!" Ron called after him. "I thought I told you to fix this!"
Already on his way up the stairs to his room, Harry answered, "I am, mate. Believe me, I am."
Ginny Potter was sitting curled up in a location where she was sure no one would ever find her. She had flown her broom up and landed on the roof of Gryffindor tower, wanting to be alone. She knew that Harry would be able to find her if he used the Marauder's Map, but she didn't think he would.
After all, Harry ignoring her was why she was up here in the first place.
Ginny angrily wiped away her tears, irritated that she was crying in the first place. She rarely cried, but Harry seemed able to make her do many things she thought she never would. If someone had told her six months ago that she would shortly be married to the man of her dreams she would have laughed in their face. Ginny had been in love with Harry Potter for as long as she could remember. She grew up hearing the story of how he defeated Voldemort as a baby, and as a child she spent countless hours planning their wedding. And then came that fateful day where she actually met him. She had seen the boy standing in King's Cross Station before he approached her mother for help. How could she not have noticed him? He may have been small for his age, but his eyes were beautiful. She had stared at him from behind her mother as he ran through the barrier. And then the twins had come back and told her he was Harry Potter. All of the sudden the shy boy with the amazing eyes was her hero and Ginny's heart was sent racing.
She spent the next year rereading all of Ron's letters to her that told her about his new best mate. She even nicked the ones he sent to her mother. Ginny treasured any knowledge she could glean about the Boy-Who-Lived, and grew ever more jealous of her brother for getting to know him when she could not. And then Ron came home for the summer and told her how Harry had beat Voldemort once again. She counted down the days until she might get to see him again. And then she woke up one morning and he was there. Ginny could vividly remember how she spent the entire summer unable to even speak in front of him. She would work up the courage to talk with him and then he would look at her with those gorgeous eyes and she would squeak and run away.
And then she got that blasted Diary. Her first year was mostly a blur now. She spent most of it in a dense fog created by Tom Riddle, but she could recall with perfect clarity the moment she woke up in the Chamber in Harry's arms. Her young heart had nearly burst with happiness. She thought that maybe he would finally see her for herself and fall desperately in love with her.
Unfortunately, this was not meant to be. Harry basically ignored her for two more years. She couldn't really blame him, as she certainly didn't make it easy on him. She had the horribly embarrassing habit of making a fool of herself in front of him. At least Harry was never cruel about it. He just seemed uncomfortable around her. It wasn't until the end of her third year that Ginny came to the conclusion that Harry Potter was never going to fall in love with her and she should just get over it and live her life. Maybe then she and Harry could be friends.
This strategy had worked marvelously for her last year. She and Harry became friends, and she was even there to help him when he went to try and save Sirius. He was no longer treating her like a little girl, and Ginny liked it. But she had spent the last year constantly telling herself she was over him, and for awhile she even believed it. So when Dean Thomas asked her out at the end of term she accepted.
And that was when everything changed.
She found Harry wandering around lost and broken, and she was able to help him. And in return he confided in her. She knew things that no one else did, and it made her feel special that he trusted her. Ginny knew that Harry was treating her differently, but she resolutely stuck to the belief that they were just friends. She wouldn't allow her feelings to ruin things again. There were some odd things going on, but Ginny tried her best to ignore them. She didn't ask when Dobby started calling her Mistress. She chose to ignore the fact that she knew about Harry's wand when that was supposed to be impossible. It wasn't until the night before Harry came to the Burrow that she came to the conclusion that something really was changing, and that she could no longer pretend otherwise.
Dean had broken up with her. She couldn't say she was surprised, as she hadn't been that into him in the first place. And she really didn't like him enough to be sad about the end of the relationship. No, it was the way he did it that got to her. She had been sitting by the pond and mellowing in her anger while indulging in a well deserved cry when Harry found her. And he held her all night long. Ginny couldn't contain the smile when she thought about that night and how caring he was. And the next day he had come to the Burrow, and all of the sudden he was flirting with her, and touching her. And Ginny didn't know what to make of it.
She smiled as she thought of their first kiss. Harry had shown that day that he wouldn't let anything get in the way of their relationship. He had even stood up to Bill! It made her heart glow realizing he would fight for her. And he did fight for her. That very night he threw off a love potion for her.
It was oddly comforting to learn about Dumbledore's interference this time. She had always been upset seeing Harry fall all over himself about Cho Chang. To learn that it hadn't really been him, that all the affection he showed Chang was caused by his feeling for her, somehow made up for the fact that he had ignored her for so many years. After all, it hadn't been his fault. He had had feelings for her for years, only Dumbledore's meddling sent them in another direction.
And then Dobby had told them they were married.
Ginny was thrilled by this, but she remembered feeling panicked when she learned of it. What if Harry didn't really want it? What if he only ever stayed with her because he had to? But Harry had silenced that worry almost immediately. He had proposed to her, making sure she knew that he wanted to marry her anyways. And it had been wonderful.
She thought about the months since then. Harry had tried his best to give her everything she wanted. He had stood up to anyone who had tried to separate them, and there had been many attempts. He had trained her as hard as he could so that she would be able to fight by his side when the time came. He had even rid the world of Malfoy in revenge for what the man had done to her.
With a cry of realization Ginny sat bolt upright.
Harry had been distant ever since his fight with Malfoy. And no wonder. Harry may have been fighting evil all his life, but this was the first time he had killed someone in a fight, and it was bound to be affecting him. Ginny had thought his distance recently had all been because of his preoccupation with trying to learn as much from Godric as possible. And while that was still the case, she realized that fixation might be in part due to what happened with Malfoy. He probably felt that he had to learn as much as he could as quickly as possible. And he was using this to avoid having to deal with things.
Ginny sighed. She had been so angry at him for ignoring her, and in a way she still was. But it was for a different reason. He should have come to her with his worries and concerns and she could have helped him. Instead, he had been trying to deal with it all on his own. The stupid boy probably didn't want to bother her. She huffed in frustration. Well, she was just going to have to show him that there was no way he could push her away. She loved him, and she would be there to help him, even if he didn't want her help. Or thought he didn't deserve it.
Jumping on her broom, Ginny made her way quickly back to her dorm room. She threw her broom on to her bed and made her way quickly down the stairs, expecting to find Harry in his chair in the corner as he had been when she left.
Only he wasn't there.
She was standing staring at his empty chair when a voice spoke from behind her. "He's gone."
Ginny turned around to her brother, wondering why he seemed angry. "Gone where?" Her mind went into overdrive. Had he gone to fight without even telling her?
"I don't know. He said he would be gone all night." Ginny sank down into Harry's chair, letting her head fall into her hands. "It's probably a good thing," Ron continued, "as I don't think I could have dealt with having him around tonight."
She looked up startled. "Why are you mad at him?"
Ron gave her an incredulous look. "You have to ask?" She only nodded in response. "I told him when you guys started dating that he wasn't to hurt you. And look at what he has done to you."
Shock turned to worry. "You didn't hurt him, did you?"
"No. But I should have."
"No, you shouldn't have. What happens between Harry and me is none of your business."
"But he hurt you!"
"And that wasn't his fault. You have no idea what he is dealing with right now."
"Then explain it to me."
"I can't. I didn't even realize till a little bit ago." Ginny looked at her brother. "What did you say to him?"
"I just pointed out to him how he has been treating you recently."
Ginny's face fell. Harry would blame himself for everything, like he always did. Worry bubbled in the pit of her stomach. "And he left right after?"
"Ron! Did it ever occur to you not to let him leave? If he gets hurt out there under some misguided notion that I no longer love him I'm going to curse you!"
Ron held his hands up in surrender. "Wait a minute, what makes you think he'll get hurt?"
"He probably ran away because he thought I didn't want him anymore." Ginny pulled angrily on her hair. "How are we even going to find him?"
"Gin, he'll be back."
"How do you know?" She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. Damn it, she hated to cry.
"He told me he would. He said he was going to fix this."
Ginny froze and looked up. "Fix what?"
"Whatever is wrong with the two of you."
"He didn't go off to do something stupid?"
"No, I don't think so. I'm pretty sure he is off scheming how to apologize. Knowing him it will involve some elaborate gesture or gift."
Ginny smiled up at her brother, then jumped up and wrapped her arms tightly around him. "Thanks, Ron!" Without waiting for a response she bounced up the steps to her room. She grabbed her cloak and called, "Dobby!"
"Do you know where Harry is?"
Dobby wrung his hands. "Dobby is not supposed to tell Mistress until the morning. Dobby promised Master."
"Okay, you can't tell me where he is. Can you take me to where he'll be in the morning? I want to wait for him."
Dobby considered this for several moments, then a sly grin took over his face. "Master did not forbid Dobby from taking Mistress early. We's will go." He held out his small hand and they disappeared with a large crack.
Ginny looked around and found herself in the middle of a large meadow covered in wildflowers. A brook bubbled nearby. "Where are we, Dobby?"
"We is in the Room of Requirements, Mistress. Master asked Dobby to get somes things ready tonight."
"That's fine, Dobby. I'm just going to wait for him. You do whatever you need."
Dobby bowed to her and disappeared, leaving Ginny alone. Realizing that she might be waiting awhile, Ginny took off her cloak and spread it on the ground, then she curled up on it and closed her eyes.
Ginny woke up to a gentle hand on her face. She blinked open her eyes and found Harry gazing down at her. She smiled sleepily at him, then frowned as she noticed the dead look in his eyes and the dark circles underneath them. It looked like he hadn't slept at all.
"What are you doing here already, Gin? Dobby wasn't supposed to bring you until later."
"He refused to take me to you. This was the next best thing."
Harry sighed and sat back on his heels, his hands falling into his lap. "You ruined my surprise."
Ginny sat up and stretched. "I don't need a surprise, love."
His eyes shot up to hers at the endearment, and a spark of hope could be seen there. With a jolt, Ginny realized that it was the first time she had felt anything from him in several days. He had shut himself completely off from her and removed her access to his emotions. It was worse than she had thought. "You deserve one," he whispered. "I've been such a prat and…"
"Don't you dare call my husband a prat, Harry Potter."
Harry's hands twisted in his lap. "I don't deserve to be your husband."
"Well that is just too bad, because I'm not letting you out of it."
"But I've been horrible to you, ignoring you for weeks. You deserve so much more."
"And I was angry about that, until I had time to sit down and think about things a bit." She reached out and pulled his hand into hers. She smiled as his fingers performed the familiar caress over her wedding rings. "Do you know why you have been so distant, Harry?"
Harry shrugged one shoulder. "I've been spending so much time trying to learn everything I could and…"
"That's not the reason, and we both know it." Harry ducked his head and refused to look at her. "What's really bothering you, Harry?"
He looked down for several minutes, but her quiet presence and the love he felt from her encouraged him to speak up. "I killed someone, Gin, and I was happy about it. What kind of person does that make me?"
"A marvelous one." He looked up at her, startled. "You killed someone who had spent his whole life killing and harming others. You killed someone who tried his best to kill me." Harry visibly shuddered. "You killed someone because you had to, and because no one else was strong enough to do it." She placed both of her small hands on his cheeks, forcing him to look deep into her eyes. "You killed someone, but that doesn't change who you are. You are still the man I love, the man I intend to spend the rest of my life with. And nothing you do could ever change the way I feel about you, Harry Potter, so you better just accept that now."
With a shuddering breath, Harry collapsed against her. He buried his head in her neck and cried. His arms wound tightly around her, holding her so tightly to his chest it was painful. But Ginny did not complain. She ran one hand along his back and buried the other one in his hair. "I'm so sorry, Gin," he mumbled into her neck. "I'm so sorry for pushing away from you. I love you so much, and I don't know what I would do without you."
"You are never going to have to find out, love."
He raised his head, tears still falling down his cheeks, and crushed his lips against hers. His kiss was passionate and desperate, and Ginny relished in it. He had been so closed off for so long, but finally the last wall was down. He knew now that she would stand by him no matter what. He knew that she would still love him despite his destiny.
Before she knew it, Harry had pushed her gently on to her back and climbed on top of her. His mouth hadn't left hers, and his hands were buried deep in her hair. She wanted to tell him how much she loved him, but he wouldn't allow her room to breathe, let alone speak. Desperate to let him know how she felt, that she still loved him just as much if not more, she used her hands to pull him even closer to her, relishing in the feel of his weight on top of her. Suddenly, he pulled back from her and looked down at her in shock.
"What did you say?"
She stared up at him, panting and confused. "I didn't say anything."
"But I heard you." He protested. "I heard you say you love me."
She smiled up at him. "I do love you, with all my heart. But there was no way I was able to talk with you kissing me senseless."
Harry still looked confused, but Ginny dragged him back down to her. His kisses were like a drug she couldn't get enough of, and her control was slipping dangerously. She knew she wasn't ready to take their relationship too far, if for no other reason than that she hadn't yet brewed the necessary potion, but kissing was no longer satisfying her. And with the way Harry was kissing her, he seemed to agree. I want you. It was Harry's voice, but he hadn't spoken aloud. Her eyes popped open in shock. She had heard him! In the precious few seconds of coherent thought she had left she remembered some of the things they had read about their bonding ceremony. Some of the effects were never recorded, but it was speculated that their connection could be deeper then the empathy they had shared for months.
Slipping her hands underneath his shirt to explore his back, she concentrated hard. There are other things we can do now besides that. Harry pulled back in shock.
"I knew I heard you!"
She smiled up at him, tugging on his shirt. Take it off, we can discuss this later. Harry allowed her to pull his shirt over his head. He went back to exploring her neck as her small hands ran over his back. With a push, she flipped him onto his back and sat up, straddling his stomach. He lay on his back, eyes glittering and dark as he watched her. With shaking hands she reached down and slowly pulled her own shirt up and off. Harry stared up at her in awe. I want to touch you. His voice in her head was low and husky and she smiled at him. She reached behind her back and unclasped her bra, throwing it behind her. Then she reached down and brought his hand up.
Ginny lay with her head resting on Harry's bare chest as his hands played with her hair. She smiled as she remembered the last hour happily. Harry may have started out hesitant, but it didn't take him long to enthusiastically explore her. And it had been marvelous.
Harry's voice in her head pulled her out of her musings. What do you think this is?
The books did say that the bond between us might grow.
Yeah. His voice was tinged with awe. This is brilliant. How do you think it works?
Well, she thought, I can't hear everything you think.
No. You only seem to respond when I purposely direct something at you.
So we can communicate by thought, but only when we try hard enough.
Seems that way. Seems like a good thing, though. It might get awfully confusing to have two people's thought running through our minds at all times.
True. She paused to think about the possibilities. Do you think there are any kinds of restrictions on this?
His hands stilled in her hair, and she looked up to see him deep in thought. Well, obviously we have to try and send something. The only other thing I could think of is that it might not work over distance.
Ginny bounced up excitedly, then her face fell. "You can't hear me anymore."
Harry sat up. "Do you think it's gone?" His looked upset at the possibility.
Ginny reached out a hand for his. Not completely.
So we have to be touching.
Seems that way.
He smiled happily down at her. I'm glad it didn't go away.
Still, it would have been dead useful if we could talk without touching.
Maybe we just have to work up to it.
He beamed at her. That would be brilliant.
Ginny smiled happily. She looked around the room for the first time since she had gotten here. There was now a large gazebo next to the brook, and it was set with a small breakfast table. In front of one of the chairs was a large bouquet of lilies. I'm sorry I ruined your plan.
He smiled sheepishly at her. It's okay. This was better.
She grinned. Yes, I agree. But we can still do what you had planned.
Harry laughed as they slipped back into their discarded shirts. He led her over to the table and held her chair out for her. "Breakfast is served, my lady."
Ginny laughed. "It looks wonderful. But where were you all night? None of this requires you to leave the castle."
Harry winked at her. "You're going to have to wait for that part, love."
Breakfast was fabulous, and Ginny was able to gently persuade Harry to talk about some of his nightmares and fears. He ducked his head repeatedly in embarrassment, but Ginny's soft words of encouragement convinced him that it was okay for him to be scared and upset. When they had finished eating, he helped her to her feet and the table and chairs disappeared. Then he held out a hand.
"May I have this dance?"
Ginny looked up at him in shock. She knew very well that Harry didn't know how to dance. She had witnessed his attempts at the Yule Ball. She cast him a worried glance, but he just smiled softly at her. Hoping that her feet wouldn't soon be regretting this decision, she put her hand in his. Harry pulled her close, wrapping one arm around her waist as he held her other hand. She didn't know where the music was coming from, but it was beautiful, and as Harry danced her around the small gazebo she found herself shocked by how good he was. She pulled herself closer and rested her head contentedly against his chest.
When did you learn how to dance so well?
Ginny looked up in shock to see him smirking down at her. She was glad to see his playful mood return. She had missed his cheeky comments the last few weeks. Last night?
I knew I needed to do some groveling. And I'm not stupid enough to try and buy a Weasley off with presents.
Her heart melted once more for the man in her arms. And just who taught you?
Well, I would have asked your mum, but that might have raised some interesting questions. She laughed as she imagined the look on her mum's face if Harry had shown up at the Burrow last night. So instead I asked Tonks.
Tonks? Who trips over everything?
Hey! I was desperate. And she is surprisingly good. He pulled her tighter into him and Ginny could feel the giddy mischief rolling off of him. Of course, it took me awhile to find her. She wasn't at her flat. So finally I went to ask Remus if he knew where she was. He buried his head in her shoulder and chuckled.
Are you going to explain the joke?
I found Tonks. In Moony's bed.
Ginny froze in shock, then slowly raised her head to look up at him. His emerald eyes were once more twinkling merrily, and he was grinning in amusement. How long has that been going on?
Tonks said he came to his senses after his first visit to us. I guess we inspired him into getting off his arse and finally doing something about the fact that he is madly in love with her.
Ginny giggled against his chest as he started them moving again. So Tonks taught you how to dance?
Yeah, took me all night. I kept on stepping on her toes.
Ginny turned her head and placed a kiss directly over his heart. I love you.
"I adore you, Ginny Potter."
Harry and Ginny, holding hands and giggling, walked into the Common Room just before lunch time. They made it through the portrait hole and looked up before stopping in their tracks at the glare from Ron.
"And just where have you two been?" The redhead growled at them.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "It was under your orders that I apologized, Ron, or did you forget?"
"No. But does that require you to keep my little sister out all bloody night? What exactly where you doing with her?"
Harry looked down at Ginny in shock. "You were out all night?"
Ginny smiled sheepishly. "I came bursting into the Common Room just after you left, looking for you. Ron told me you had run off and I may have freaked out a little bit." Not wanting to voice her fears in front of the students who were paying avid attention she finished in his head. I was worried you had run off because you thought I didn't love you anymore. I had to find you. "I feel asleep in the Room of Requirements waiting for you."
Harry stared down at her, love and awe coursing through him. You are truly marvelous, Ginny Potter.
"You slept in the Room of Requirements?" Ron asked, bringing their attention back to him.
"Yes. Harry didn't show up until this morning. He woke me up, then we spent the morning together."
"Oh." Ron looked carefully at Ginny. "And he apologized for being a prat?"
Ginny smiled at her brother. "Yes, he did. Everything is okay now."
Harry pulled her close and growled in her head. It's more than okay, Mrs. Potter.
Neither Potter noticed the intrigued looks from Hermione at their interaction. They curled up in a chair together and Harry resumed one of his favorite activities, playing with her left hand and the ring there.
Hermione watched the entire thing.
She hadn't been there the week after Harry and Ginny learned of their marriage, so she hadn't witnessed the last time Harry had been so caught up in the ring on Ginny's hand for such a long period of time. And although Harry still played with it quite often, he was usually more discrete about it. Hermione watched her two friends closely as they seemed lost in their own little world. She knew they were close, but watching them made her realize that Harry and Ginny seemed to be close on a level that she hadn't seen in any of her other peers. At least not any of those her age. They reminded her forcibly of the week she had spent at her cousin's house this summer. Her cousin was three years older, and newly engaged.
Absently, Hermione stood up. "I'm going to go to the library." Ron nodded, not lifting his head from his Quidditch play book. When she entered the library, she headed straight for a section she had visited often that dealt with laws of the wizarding government. She remembered reading about the wizarding rules regarding betrothal and engagement. It didn't take her long to find the book she needed.
It is a tradition in the Muggle world for a man to ask a father's permission to marry his daughter; this tradition is believed to have originated in an ancient wizarding law. By law, parents must be conferred with prior to an offer of marriage. In addition, if a woman is underage, the father's approval must be documented by the Ministry of Magic's Department of Magical Contracts. For this reason, it is unusual for magical folk to become engaged when either of the parties is still underage. Indeed, only thirteen requests have been lodged with the Department in the last fifty years. These requests are a matter of public record and can be viewed at the Ministry.
Hermione stopped reading, frustrated. She had felt certain with the way that Harry and Ginny were behaving that he had proposed that morning. Why else would Harry be caressing her left hand and kissing directly over where an engagement ring would lie? But she couldn't see Mr. and Mrs. Weasley giving him permission to propose to their fifteen year old daughter. And the book (which was magically self-updating) did not list them. So they couldn't be engaged. Hermione returned to her book in frustration.
The only known way to bypass the Parental Consent Law is through a magical betrothal contract or a Fidelis Amor Vinculum Ceremony. This ceremony is the most powerful bonding ceremony known to wizarding kind, but it has not been preformed for at least a thousand years. Rumor has it that this ceremony has not been used since Godric Gryffindor used it on his only son. Gryffindor himself was said to be bound under a Fidelis Amor Vinculum. The ceremony requires a vast amount of power, which is the reason for it being performed so rarely. When done properly, it binds the couple in not just love but magic and soul as well. There is much speculation about the effects of this ceremony, but the only written record by a bonded pair states that they were able to empathically share their emotions. It is also rumored that this ceremony will greatly increase the magic available to the couple. Performance of the Fidelis Amor Vinculum Ceremony constitutes a binding magical marriage and grants immediate legal emancipation for underage wizards and witches. It requires a witness that must swear to the love between the two individuals, as any attempt to perform the ceremony on a couple not already in love will lead to death of both participants.
The instructions for the Fidelis Amor Vinculum Ceremony are restricted by the Ministry of Magic, and the only known copy of the spell required is under study in the Department of Mysteries.
Hermione stopped reading, her brain racing. She knew that Harry and Ginny could not be betrothed, as this required a ceremony performed by the current Minister of Magic. There was no way that Fudge would perform such a ceremony without making a public spectacle of it if Harry was involved. And it didn't make sense that Harry and Ginny could have been bound with the Fidelis Amor Vinculum. For one, the only people that might possibly have enough power to perform such a spell would be Dumbledore, Voldemort, and Harry himself. Also, Hermione was confident that there was no one that Harry would trust enough to stand as witness if it wasn't herself.
And yet… nothing else made sense.
With determination, Hermione returned to her books. She would learn everything there was to know about this ceremony, and then she would confront them about it.
"Harry, Ginny, can I talk to the two of you?"
The couple in question looked up. They had spent the last several hours happily wrapped around each other in a large chair by the fire. To the outside world it looked like they were silently enjoying each other's company, but in reality they had spent the time conversing together. They analyzed what they knew about the war and Dumbledore and discussed where things needed to go from here.
"Sure, Hermione," Ginny said. "What's up?"
Hermione looked around cautiously. "Not here. Somewhere more private?"
Harry looked at her curiously, wondering what she could want to talk to them about. Wordlessly, he and Ginny stood up and left the Common Room, Hermione following behind. They made their way to the Room of Requirements. Once inside, the door disappeared, and Harry asked for several privacy wards in addition. Then he turned to his friend.
"What did you want to discuss, 'Mione?"
"I was doing some reading today." Harry didn't react to this. It was nothing new. "I found some laws referring to the Fidelis Amor Vinculum Ceremony." Harry and Ginny stiffened at the name, and Hermione watched shrewdly. "You know what I'm talking about, don't you?"
Ginny laid a calming hand on Harry's arm. "What did you learn, Hermione?"
"I was curious." Harry snorted in amusement until Hermione shot him a scalding look. "I noticed some things were going on with you two all term, but I figured you were just in love and left it at that. But today, today something was different." Hermione took a breath before going on. "Where you aware that Harry has been playing with your left ring finger all day long?"
Harry face looked startled, which quickly turned to chagrin. "I didn't realize I was doing that. It's just habit, I guess." He turned to Ginny. "Sorry, love."
"I don't think anyone else made the connection," Hermione put in quickly, "But I would refrain from doing that around Dumbledore. Anyways, I thought you might have asked Ginny to marry you this morning, and I was curious about the laws regarding underage engagements." She paused and eyed the two of them. "There is no way that you could be engaged without the entire wizarding world knowing about it."
"I know," Harry said quietly. "I would have to not only have permission from her father, but lodge this with the Ministry, and it would be a matter of public record. Fudge would die of happiness to have something like that to hold over me."
Hermione looked at him curiously. "You are very well informed."
"We've read all the books in the library about this."
Hermione nodded before going on. "It did mention one way to get around the law without it becoming public knowledge."
"Fidelis Amor Vinculum." Ginny whispered.
"Yes." The older girl looked at her friends. "Mind explaining to me just how you two were able to manage that?"
"We have no bloody idea."
"Sorry, 'Mione, but it's the truth and it is fantastically frustrating. We didn't even find out about it until two months after the fact."
Ginny looked up at Harry as if seeking permission. He nodded. "In June Harry's new wand performed the ceremony on its own, with Dobby as witness. Dobby didn't tell us about it until after my birthday."
Hermione looked at her in shock. "The wand performed the ceremony? But how? That makes no sense? How can a wand perform a spell on its own, and how can it perform that spell. It's supposed to be nearly impossible to do."
"I have no idea," Harry answered. "We've tried to look into it, but there isn't much information out there. And we have to be careful. No one can find out about this and it would look suspicious if we were asking around."
Hermione nodded her agreement. "Are you going to tell the family?" Harry and Ginny looked at each other and gave identical shrugs.
"I want to," Harry began. "I don't like the idea of lying to her family. But can you imagine their reaction when I tell them I married their fourteen year old daughter?"
Hermione cringed. "True, that might not go over well. But you need to find a way to tell them. They'll find out eventually and it will be much better coming from you."
Harry pulled a hand through his hair in frustration. "I know."
Hermione thought carefully for a few minutes. "You might try telling them one at a time. And as much as I hate to say it, you shouldn't start with Ron."
"Yeah. He's gonna kill me, but I can't tell him until I know he will be able to keep it to himself and not blurt it out the first time he gets angry about something."
"You've been working well with Bill, haven't you?" Harry nodded. "Maybe you should try him first. And he should be able to help when you tell Mr. and Mrs. Weasley."
Harry looked at her thoughtfully. "That might be a good idea. Thanks!" He grinned at her.
"Hermione?" Ginny asked. "You'll keep this to yourself, right?"
"Of course! But can I ask some things about it?"
Harry smiled at his friend's enthusiasm. He asked the room for a couple of couches. This might take awhile.
Lord Voldemort was in a towering rage. He didn't understand how his followers could be so incompetent. First there had been the attack on Diagon Alley. They hadn't managed to break into the bank and Bellatrix had nearly been killed. Then there was the most reason attack. Voldemort had allowed his new recruits to choose their own target to attack for their initiation. They had chosen some town of no consequences in Scotland. By all accounts, things had been going well, despite the presence of Dumbledore's foolish Order of the Phoenix. Then things had started to go downhill. Half of the attackers were incapacitated (a good number of them permanently handicapped) by a single boy. He had sent Lucius to deal with the issue as the report claimed the boy was fighting with a sword. Lucius was a superb swordsman.
And yet the boy had defeated him.
And not a single one of his followers could tell him who the boy was. But by all accounts it was the same lad who had nearly defeated Bella months earlier. Voldemort had watched the memories of the events in question, and he was furious to discover that not only was it the same boy, but he seemed to be getting better and he was wielding the sword of Gryffindor. Voldemort had searched for years for that sword and now it had turned up in the hands of a mere boy.
He had spent the last several weeks trying to determine the identity of the boy, but no one knew who he was. Even Severus, his spy within the Order, was unable to help. He reported that Dumbledore was just as mystified as to the kid's identity. The only one who seemed to know who he was was the werewolf Remus Lupin, and the man wasn't talking.
Thus Lord Voldemort was in a towering rage.
He considered the possibility that Severus had mentioned. Apparently, some members of the Order were convinced that the boy was in fact Harry Potter in disguise. While he wouldn't put it past the boy to sneak out in disguise to fight, he had a hard time believing that Potter could fight so well. He had seen him fight six months ago in the Ministry. While the Potter boy held talent, it was nowhere near the level of the new kid.
Of course, Severus had mentioned that Potter seemed to be at odds with Dumbledore. The boy was refusing training from the old man and Severus had reported that he was training himself.
Was it possible?
Openly curious now, Lord Voldemort tried something that he had not tried in months. Last year he had enjoyed playing with Potter's mind. He had been sending the boy visions for months trying to get him to the Department of Mysteries. He had also toyed with the brat's emotions. It had been amusing to bring out the boy's anger, and Severus had reported that it had caused Potter to spend a great deal of time in painful detentions with that Umbridge woman. This amused the Dark Lord. He had tried the same thing over the summer. He was sure that Dumbledore had told the boy the Prophecy now, and Lord Voldemort wished to know it. But it had been much harder to access the boy's mind during the summer. Voldemort supposed this had to do with the protections that Dumbledore placed around the boy's home. He had been gleefully waiting for the boy to return to school so he could resume tormenting him.
Things had not gone according to plan. He had been able to find the boy's mind, but it had been filled with thoughts of love, and it caused him a great deal of pain to try and stay there. Severus had informed him that Potter seemed to be in a serious relationship with the Weasley girl. After a week of trying, he had given up trying to access Potter's mind. There were other, less painful, methods or accomplishing his goals.
But now he was going to try again. He desperately wanted to know if it was Potter who had been fighting his followers. Falling into his mind with practiced ease, Voldemort unlocked the door he had built there to stop Potter from entering his own mind and walked forward.
He was rebuffed.
Confused, the Dark Lord examined the portal that had always existed between his mind and Potter's. It was no longer there. It had simply vanished. He searched through his whole mind and found nothing.
Where had Potter gone?
Harry was pacing.
He had thought all week about Hermione's advice to tell Bill first, and come to believe that it was probably a good idea. But now that he was facing the prospect of actually telling Ginny's oldest brother that he was married to her he was bloody terrified. Ginny was with him. She had insisted she be there. Privately, Harry thought she was there mainly for his protection, but he wasn't going to complain. Currently, she was curled up in a large chair in front of the fire, watching as he paced.
Harry had asked Remus earlier that week if he could ask Bill to stop by again sometime soon. The werewolf had responded the next day that Bill would be available on Friday evening. He was due any minute, and Harry was a nervous wreck. He shuddered with the thought of how much worse it would be when they tried to tell Ginny's parents. Harry was planning on wearing full body armour for that encounter.
There was a knock on the door and then it opened to reveal the eldest Weasley son. Bill opened the door and shut it securely before noticing his sister in the room.
"Ginny! What are you doing here?"
Ginny bounced out of her seat and launched herself at her brother. He picked her up and twirled her around. When he set her down she beamed up at him. "Can't I come see my big brother?"
"Sure. I just wasn't expecting you. I thought Harry and I were going to be working on wards again."
"Not today, big brother. Harry and I need to talk to you about something."
Bill froze and his eyes shot over to where Harry nervously stood, his face white as a ghost. "Everything alright, Ginny?"
"Oh, it's marvelous." She led her brother over to the couch and pushed him down, then curled up against his side. Harry slowly made his way and sat in the chair Ginny had recently vacated. "First, I wanted to thank you for helping Harry out a couple of weeks ago, and for not letting on that you knew who he was."
"You're welcome, little one. I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't a nervous wreck letting him come with me, but he's a good fighter. I was glad to have him there."
"Dumbledore didn't bug you about who he was?"
"No. I didn't let anyone but Remus know I had ever even seen him before. Didn't want to get interrogated by Mum."
Harry smiled weakly at him. "Thanks, Bill."
"I did have a question for you, Harry." Harry watched him nervously. "Something you said to Malfoy…"
Harry gulped visibly. "I said he nearly killed my wife."
"Yes." Bill looked down, expecting to find confusion on Ginny's face, but there was none. Instead she was looking at Harry with adoration in her eyes. "Remus said that you were just hiding your identity, but I was wondering…"
Harry's hands clenched on top of his legs. "That's why we asked you hear Bill. We are going to tell you something that only two other people in the world know, and we are going to ask you to keep it to yourself. It is a matter of life and death." Bill looked at him and waited for Harry to go on. "You were there when I asked Ginny to be my girlfriend."
Bill chuckled. "Yes. Hard to forget my little sister's boyfriend soundly trouncing my arse."
Harry grinned, then remembered what he still had to confess to. The grin slid off his face. "I had noticed some odd things throughout the summer, and about a week after her birthday I began to ask questions about them."
"What types of things?"
"I have a house elf," Bill nodded. "You met him already. Well, a week or two into the summer he started calling Ginny Mistress."
"We didn't understand it at first," Ginny cut in. "Dobby has always been a bit unusual and we just thought he was being weird."
"But Ginny, house elves never acknowledge a new master unless…"
Harry interrupted him. "Yes, we know. There were several other things." Harry pulled out Godric's wand. "You probably recognized the fact that I had acquired a second wand." Bill nodded. "I can't tell you everything, but this wand is an old Potter Family heirloom. There is a curse on it that prevents me from telling anyone but my wife and children very much about it." Bill nodded his acknowledgement. He had run into several such curses before. "Ginny knows everything about it."
"But the curse…"
"Has never taken effect." Bill looked on in shock. Harry took a deep breath and went on. "Bill, I'd like you to meet my wife, Ginny Potter."
Bill jumped up and began pacing. He knew that if he were to draw his wand now it would only be him that ended up hurt. Harry had already beaten him once and Ginny was probably almost as good. But he couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that his baby sister was married. Why did his parents ever allow that? And why wouldn't they have told anyone? No, they must not know either. He turned back to Harry and Ginny, who were now sitting together in the chair.
"How did this happen? There are laws against underage marriage."
It was Ginny who answered. "The short answer is that we have no idea. We didn't find out we were married until two months after the fact."
"That makes no sense, Ginny."
"Believe me, I know."
"How did you get around the Parental Consent Law?"
"Fidelis Amor Vinculum." Harry whispered.
Bill's pacing stopped instantly. "The True Love Bond? But who? How?"
"Dobby stood as witness, and he is the one that finally told us." Harry answered, avoiding the real question.
"But who performed the actual ceremony?"
"We can't tell you that, Bill." Ginny looked up at her eldest brother.
"And why the bloody hell not?" Bill was growling in anger.
"I'm sorry, big brother. But we can't tell you for the same reason Harry can't say anymore about his wand."
Bill deflated. He knew what would happen if they broke one of those curses, and he was certainly not going to volunteer to be the test subject. He fell back onto couch. "Who else knows?"
"We told Remus fairly early on. That's one of the reasons he's been helping me so much." Harry looked relieved that the fight seemed to have left Bill. "And Hermione figured it out last week."
Bill nodded. That made sense. "Why are you telling me first?"
"We want to tell the whole family, but I don't think Harry could survive telling you all at once." Ginny smiled cheekily up at her husband who just nodded. It was true. "And we were hoping you might help us with how to tell Mum and Dad."
Bill smiled. "Hoping for my help to keep your husband alive, huh?"
Ginny beamed at him. "Exactly."
Bill's smile disappeared. "Are you okay with this, Ginny? I realize you didn't have much choice, but surely we could find a way out of it for you…"
Harry visibly tensed, but Ginny turned to him and placed a hand on his cheek before turning to her brother. "I'm perfectly happy, Bill. I know that Harry loves me, and we would have gotten married anyways. It just would have taken a little longer."
Bill watched as his baby sister looked up at her sixteen year old husband. His first inclination was to be horribly upset about this news, but there was no doubt that Ginny was in love with Harry. She had been infatuated with the Boy-Who-Lived nearly her entire life, but this was something different. Ginny looked at Harry the same way his Mum looked at his Dad, and Bill could not deny that. And he had already witnessed how much Harry was willing to fight for her. He wouldn't do that if he didn't return her love. Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing. With a resigned sigh he stood up and walked over to them. "I'm happy for you guys, but Merlin help us when you tell Mum." He held out his hand for Harry to shake. "Take care of my baby sister, Potter."
"With my life."
Beaming, Ginny launched herself at her oldest brother. With her arms wrapped tightly around his neck she whispered in his ear. "Thank you, Bill. Thank you for understanding."
A/N: Well this chapter sort of took on a mind of its own, and insisted it knew better than I did what should happen. But I'm happy with it. For those concerned that Bill should have been angrier at the end, it is important to remember that he was a curse breaker. He is aware of both the curse on the wand and the binding ceremony, and knows the consequences. That helped him understand.
Also, just to clarify, Harry never was a Horcux. There are none in my story. He just had a mental link with Voldemort.
Also, I'm leaning towards evil Snape at this point. I think that would be more fun to write!
It was the last day before the Christmas holidays, and Harry could not wait to leave. Mrs. Weasley had invited him to spend time at the Burrow, and Harry had gratefully accepted. He needed to get away from Hogwarts and Dumbledore's constant attention. At the same time, he was a nervous wreck about going home, as they intended to tell Ginny's parents about the marriage. Harry was fairly confident that they wouldn't kill him, as it wasn't like he had had any choice in the matter, but that didn't stop him from worrying that it would destroy the good relationship he enjoyed with them. Ginny had tried to reassure him that, while her mother probably would yell, it wouldn't make her love Harry any less. Harry was having trouble believing her.
Of course, it was impossible to get away from Hogwarts without Dumbledore trying once more to control his life. The old man called him to his office that evening, and Harry climbed the steps with a feeling of trepidation. Dumbledore had been keeping an annoyingly close watch on him since the discussion after the fight with Malfoy. He was fairly confident that Dumbledore was aware of how much time Harry spent in the Room of Requirements, and it would be no leap of logic for the old man to assume that he was spending that time training. Harry only hoped that Dumbledore hadn't yet found a way to actively spy on that training.
"Hello, Harry," the Headmaster said genially. "Why don't you have a seat?"
Harry sat down without saying a word.
"I thought it prudent to discuss some things before you left the safety of the castle." Harry had to restrain himself from rolling his eyes. He had never been truly safe in the castle. "While I am giving you permission to go to the Burrow, I ask that you not leave the Weasley's land any time during the break."
"I will take your opinion into consideration, Headmaster." Harry spoke formally in an attempt to rein in his anger.
"That was not a request, Harry."
"Forgive me, Headmaster, but I fail to see how you have any authority over how I spend my time when I am not at school."
Dumbledore's eyes narrowed and lost some of their customary twinkle. "If you will not agree with the measures I have put in place for your safety then I must insist that you remain at Hogwarts for the holidays."
"You cannot force me to stay here. If you try, I will simply find a way to leave on my own."
Dumbledore stared at him in shock, then pulled out his wand. "Then I must do this for your own safety." He whispered a spell and sent a violet beam of light at Harry.
Harry made no move to block it, as he knew what spell it was before the old man even sent it, and he had already taken the necessary precautions. He remained calmly in his seat. When the spell reached him, it exploded against an invisible shield and a small silver instrument on Dumbledore's desk collapsed in sparks. Harry looked up at Dumbledore with steel in his eyes. "I suggest you do not try that again, Headmaster."
"Harry, if you do not allow me to place a tracking spell on you than I will be forced to lock you into Gryffindor Tower."
"I hope not, Headmaster. I would expect that the Headmaster of this school would not stoop to something so completely illegal."
"It is not illegal, Harry. With Sirius being dead and the Dursleys being Muggles, the Ministry allows the Headmaster magical guardianship over all current students." A small smile of triumph graced Dumbledore's face.
Harry continued to look at him calmly. "You are assuming I don't have a magical guardian already. Since I do, you cannot exercise control over me."
"And who might that be?"
"Someone who is not afraid to stand up to you, Headmaster."
"If you cannot tell me who this is so that I may discuss the situation with them, then I am forced to act under the assumption that no such person exists."
"Very well, Headmaster. If you would allow me to make a floo call?"
Dumbledore nodded his acceptance and watched as Harry withdrew a small amount of the powder and threw it into the fire before asking for Gornak. Dumbledore looked on curiously as Harry kneeled with his head in the fire. Gornak was a top level manager at Gringotts, and rarely consented to even meet with humans. Why would Harry be contacting the goblins? His surprise only grew further as Harry pulled his head back and it was replaced by a goblin's head.
"Good evening, Headmaster. I am Gornak."
"And to you, as well, Gornak. May I ask why you wish to speak to me?"
"Mr. Potter informed me that you wish to know about his guardian?" The Headmaster nodded his acknowledgement. "He does indeed have a legal guardian that we are aware of, but I am bound to secrecy on this matter. Suffice it to say that Mr. Potter's guardian has made his views quite clear, and they agree with Mr. Potter's own opinions."
"You mean to tell me that Harry's new guardian wishes him to go to the Burrow for Christmas?"
"Yes. Mr. Potter is legally able to leave the grounds of Hogwarts whenever he feels the need."
Harry sniggered quietly at the sight of Albus Dumbledore with his jaw dropped in shock.
"And you are unable to reveal this person's identity?"
"Correct. The identity of Mr. Potter's guardian has been sealed by the Ministry. Only I and the Head of the Department of Magical Contracts is aware of this information."
"Very well. Thank you for your time, Gornak."
Gornak bowed his head and was gone, leaving behind a very shocked old man. With a resigned sigh, Dumbledore turned his attention back to Harry.
"You seem to be going to a great deal of effort to get your way, Harry." There was no mistaking the look of disappointment in the man's eyes.
"I have suffered through the mistakes of others long enough, Headmaster. I will no longer do so."
"I am sorry you see it that way, my boy." Dumbledore rubbed his eyes wearily before looking back up. "I was just trying to do my best by you. Can you not forgive an old man the mistakes he made from loving you too much?"
Harry stiffened and drew in several long breaths before responding. "You claim to have loved me so much that you made mistakes with regards to me. Tell me, Headmaster, where is the evidence that you love me? How am I even supposed to know what love looks like? Because until recently the only thing I knew about love was that it could get you killed." Harry paused briefly before continuing, trying to control his breathing as his anger rose. "You told me six months ago that my greatest strength, the power that would defeat Voldemort one day, was love. And yet every time I get close enough to love someone they are taken from me. My parents, Sirius, you even tried to take Ginny away. You kept information from me that led to the death of my only remaining family, you try to keep me from the Weasleys—the closest thing to parents I have ever known, you try to stop me from finding my own love. Tell me, Headmaster, whom is it I am allowed to love?"
"Harry, you are not seeing things clearly. You have good friends who love you. You have many adults that care for you. We love you enough to try and protect you, even from yourself."
"So you say, Headmaster. But why not Ginny? Why is it necessary to keep me away from her?"
"It is dangerous to involve yourself romantically with anyone, Harry. It puts her in too much danger and provides an unneeded distraction from your training and destiny."
Harry looked carefully at the man in front of him. His eyes hardened in resolve. "And yet you tried to lure me towards another girl and even stooped so low as to feed me a love potion for three years."
Dumbledore's eyes widened in shock. How did Harry know about that?
"Did it never occur to you that one of my best friends is the smartest witch of our age? It didn't take her long to figure out what was going on as soon as I became suspicious. And then I was able to take the steps necessary to make sure it never happened again."
"Harry, there is no spell to protect yourself against love potions." Dumbledore was careful to admit nothing. He would not do so until he could discover how Harry knew so much.
"Then why hasn't your potion worked on me all term?"
Dumbledore watched as his carefully constructed plan took a death blow. He had hoped, despite everything that happened this term, that he would be able to repair his relationship with Harry. But it was quickly becoming apparent that the boy would never trust him again.
"I know why you were really trying to keep me away from Ginny, Headmaster. I have already shown that you cannot legally try any longer. I would recommend that you not push your luck any further."
Without another word Harry walked calmly out of the office and shut the door behind him.
Dumbledore did not move for several minutes. Harry implied that he knew the truth about the prophecy. But how could he? There was no one left alive who knew the full thing besides Albus himself. He had even gone to the trouble of Obliviating it from the mind of Sybil Trelawney. So how did Harry find out the truth, and how long had he known? This would certainly explain the hostility he had felt from the boy in the last several months. It was imperative that he understand what was going on. Harry desperately needed guidance; the wizarding world would not survive if Harry fell into the dark. Albus needed to find a way to regain some control over Harry and rebuild their relationship, and he needed to get him away from Ginny Weasley. The girl had obviously been a bad influence on him. It was her friendship that seemed to have precipitated many of the problems with Harry. It was clear that he could not force Harry away from her. Perhaps it was best to try and convince her parents that she needed to be kept away. Maybe if he told them the first part of the prophecy they would realize that it was dangerous for her to be around Harry until his destiny was fulfilled. He would need to speak to Molly and Arthur. Unfortunately, with Harry arriving at the Burrow tomorrow, Albus would have to wait until the new year for a chance to speak with them.
He only hoped it was enough.
The next day found the four Gryffindor friends sitting in a compartment of the train as it made its way towards London. Ron had talked Hermione into a game of chess, and Harry and Ginny were curled up near the window, hands intertwined as they spoke privately.
Bill said he would stop by tomorrow morning?
Yes. Dad should be home as it's Saturday. And I really think it's best to tell them as soon as possible. Mum is already going to be upset that we didn't tell her this summer.
We can always tell her that we didn't really accept it was true until we started noticing the effects, which wasn't until after we got to Hogwarts, really.
But then we'd have to tell them about the effects.
True, but not all of them. If we tell them the name of the ceremony they'll be able to learn some of it. We should at least tell them about the empathy part, as that is the most documented, but I agree that it's probably not best to mention the fact that we can communicate silently.
Good. I can just see Mum trying to keep us apart if we mention that.
And while they really couldn't, it would be better not to have to have that particular fight with your family.
Harry's next words were hesitant and soft. Are you sure they're not going to be angry with me?
I have no doubt they'll be angry, at least Mum will, but there is no reason for them to direct that anger at you. It's not like you made this happen.
So quit worrying about it.
That's much easier said than done, Gin.
Are you sure we need to tell them now?
We agreed that we should tell them as soon as possible, and based on your meeting last night with Dumbledore it really needs to be soon. We need them on our side if he tries to separate us again. And now that he knows he can't legally touch you he's bound to come after me.
Harry sighed and wrapped his free hand around her waist to pull her closer. Why can't he just leave us alone? He's got to realize by now that there is no way I will ever trust him enough to let him guide me. Why is he still trying so hard?
He's spent the last fifteen years convinced of his role, Harry. He's not going to give that up very easily. And he's still certain that he knows best. I honestly don't think anything will convince him he's wrong until you win on your own.
If I win.
She squeezed his hand until it was painful. It's a good thing Ron is here or I'd curse you for thinking that, Harry Potter. You will win and it's time you fully accept that.
We don't know that.
I do. It would have been pointless for all of this to happen to us if you were just going to fail. And remember, the prophecy didn't mention failure as a possibility. Either you win or you go dark. And there is no way I'm letting you go dark, Potter.
You're amazing, you know.
But of course.
You have to ask?
No. They both moved at the same time, and met in the middle. The pull towards each other had only strengthened in the weeks since their time in the Room of Requirement. Working through their problems had only intensified their love, and they had had a hard time keeping their hands off of each other since. This was no exception. Harry's hands had slipped under the back of her shirt and were caressing the bare skin of her lower back and Ginny's were wound through his hair as she held him tightly to her.
"Oi! Hands where I can see them!" They didn't acknowledge Ron's angry yell.
"Ron! Leave them alone!" Hermione's scolding barely even penetrated the fog in Harry's brain.
"What? If I left them alone they'd probably be shagging right in front of me. I don't need to see that." Ron's voice was turning angry, and Harry pulled back reluctantly.
Harry's face turned beet red when he saw the angry scowl on Ron's face, but Ginny merely laughed. "We wouldn't shag in front of you, Ron."
"Sure looked like it to me." Ron narrowed his eyes at them. "You guys aren't shagging, are you?"
"And what if we are?" Ginny asked impishly. "It's none of your business what we do, Ronald Weasley. Keep your nose out of it or I'll remove it for you."
Ron snorted in disapproval but turned back to his game. Ginny tried to push herself back into Harry's embrace, but he resisted.
I'm already going to have your parents mad at me tomorrow, Gin. I'd prefer not to have Ron as well.
She crossed her arms in anger, withdrawing her hand from his. "Fine. But remember that you started it."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Forgive me for momentarily forgetting that I was sitting two feet away from your brother and my best mate when I started kissing you. You tend to distract me." He grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet. "Let's go see what Neville is up to."
You just want to snog again.
Of course. But can we please make sure we're alone first?
Fine. Be that way.
Grinning at her fake anger, Harry pulled her into the corridor and set off to find an empty compartment. He desperately needed to kiss her.
Harry was sitting nervously on the couch the next morning while Ginny helped her mum clean the breakfast dishes. Mr. Weasley was sitting in his chair and reading the Prophet, and Ron was upstairs polishing his broom so they could play a game of Quidditch that afternoon. Harry was still trying to figure out what to say when he heard the sound of the floo followed by Bill's voice as he greeted his mother and sister. The eldest Weasley son then came into the sitting room and, after throwing a quick wink towards Harry, planted himself next to his father to discuss the latest example of the incompetency of Minister Fudge. It was several minutes before Ginny came in, leading her mother. She came and sat beside Harry, putting a calming hand on his arm, as Molly sat curiously next to her husband.
With a deep breath Harry pulled his wand and cast a silencing charm on the room. He didn't want Ron to find out anything until they were ready to tell him.
"Harry, you really shouldn't be using magic." Mrs. Weasley chided him.
"It's alright, Mrs. Weasley. It is perfectly legal."
Mr. Weasley looked at him curiously. "Legal, Harry?"
"Yes. Ginny and I wanted to talk to you about some things, and that is part of it."
Molly looked at him shrewdly before turning to her son. "Bill, maybe you'd better leave us alone."
"Actually, Harry and Ginny asked me to be here, Mum."
The elder Weasleys all turned their attention towards the couple. "What did you need to speak to us about, Harry?" Mr. Weasley asked calmly. Molly was already wringing her hands worriedly.
Ginny took his hand and gave it a squeeze. "Go ahead, love."
Harry turned to her and offered a brief smile before beginning. "We are going to tell you as much as we can, but understand that there are certain things I simply can't tell you."
"Why not, Harry?" Molly asked.
"Part of this information is under a blood curse, Mum." Bill put in. "If Harry were to tell anyone who wasn't a Potter things could get rather… nasty."
"Yes, I've heard about those." Arthur acknowledged. He looked at the young couple curiously. "But it seems that Ginny knows."
"Yes, she knows everything. But I'm getting ahead of myself." Harry paused briefly to collect his thoughts. "The night that Sirius died, Professor Dumbledore sent me back to his office after the fight." Only Ginny caught the slight catch in his voice at the mention of his godfather. "He shared with me the contents of the prophecy that was in the Department of Mysteries, the prophecy that the Order had been guarding for nearly a year." Molly gasped in shock. "I won't tell you what it says exactly, as that information is a closely guarded secret, but the gist was that I would be the one to defeat Voldemort."
"No!" Molly Weasley was on her feet, fists clenched in fury.
"Molly," her husband called quietly. "Let's sit down and let the boy finish his story before we ask questions." She looked down at him and huffed before nodding her head in agreement and resuming her seat.
"Thank you. Anyways, this information was extremely upsetting to me, as you may imagine. Further, I was angry that Dumbledore had kept it from me, resulting in Sirius' death. It was the next day that Ginny found me…"
"While he was wallowing in self pity," she cut in impishly.
"Yes, dear" he smiled down at her before continuing his story. "She helped me realize that I should start taking control of my life and begin training so that when the time came I might have a chance of winning. Her idea was to bind a house elf that would be able to help me by running errands and making sure I was fed during the summer. The very first thing I did this summer was visit Gringotts."
"Harry! That was dangerous going out by yourself!" Mrs. Weasley nearly shrieked as she was once more on her feet in anger.
"Molly!" Her husband put out a calming hand and guided her back to her seat. "Sorry, Harry. Please continue."
Harry nodded his thanks. "It was then that I was informed of the Potter Family Vault."
Bill looked up in surprise. "You weren't told when you turned eleven?"
"No. Dumbledore felt it was better that I was not aware of it." Harry shut his eyes briefly before moving on. "It was there that I found two letters. The first was from my mother, and it contained the prophecy. Only it was longer than the one that Dumbledore had shared. He had kept back the second half, the part that gave me an idea of how to actually go about winning against Voldemort, along with some other crucial information. She also told me how to access an ancient family heirloom." Harry pulled out Godric's wand and caressed it gently. "I can't tell you where this comes from, but suffice it to say that this is an extremely powerful wand that has been passed down in my family for hundreds of years. Dad explained that only he could tell me what it was, and that he was positive that this was the power that would help me to win. Of course, Dumbledore knows nothing about it. He continues to believe that I can defeat Voldemort through the power of love."
Arthur Weasley raised an eyebrow in amazement, but did not interrupt. Molly was eyeing the wand that Harry still held in his hand.
"I spent most of the summer training, and that was what enabled me to beat Bill on Ginny's birthday, and to do so without getting in trouble."
"And perhaps to join in on a couple of fights against the Death Eaters?" Arthur asked quietly.
Harry looked momentarily shocked at the man's quick perception. "Yes, I've helped out twice now. But all of this, while vastly important, is not what I really wanted to tell you." He stopped, and Ginny pushed in closer to him to give him strength. "Something happened at the very beginning of the summer, only Ginny and I didn't learn of it until the very end. And in all honesty, I don't think I truly accepted it until I was able to get to Hogwarts and research a little bit." Harry looked up and met Arthur Weasley's eyes. "What do you know about the Fidelis Amor Vinculum?"
Molly looked confused, but Arthur looked at him with understanding and resignation. "The True Love Bond." Molly looked at her husband briefly before returning her attention to Harry.
"Yes. Somehow, my wand performed the Fidelis Amor Vinculum ceremony without my knowledge in early June."
"Arthur? What does this mean?" Molly turned in confusion to her husband.
He turned to his wife. "It means that Ginny and Harry are married."
Harry was grateful that he had had the presence of mind to keep his wand out, as it made it that much easier to put up a shield when a furious Molly Weasley turned on them. It was four spells in before her husband and eldest son where able to get her attention enough to stop the onslaught. Arthur Weasley coolly took his wife's wand and pocketed it before turning back towards Harry, while Bill placed a silencing charm on his mother and calmly encouraged her to take her seat.
"You said that you were not even aware it had been performed. How did you find out about it?" Harry was amazed at how collected Arthur seemed. He avoided looking at Molly.
"I received a letter from Gringotts asking about how I wanted them to deal with my marriage. I was understandably confused, so I asked Dobby, my house elf, as he had been my means of communicating with the goblins. Evidently, the wand chose him as witness to our marriage, and he knew of it from the beginning. It was the middle of August when he told us this; he claimed that we were not ready for the information prior to that time." Harry paused his explanation and noted with relief that Molly Weasley no longer was fighting to get to her wand. "We tried to find out as much as we could, and discovered that the Fidelis Amor Vinculum had not been performed in a thousand years, that it was a binding marriage commitment, and that it granted both of us majority rights in the wizarding world. It also spoke of rumours that this ceremony linked us in such a way as to share not only our magic but our emotions." Harry looked down at Ginny for confirmation before he continued. She nodded at him encouragingly. "It wasn't until a few months ago that Ginny and I noticed this."
"What exactly have you noticed?"
"Our spells are coming out significantly stronger now, and they are easier to learn in the first place," Ginny answered her dad. "But the biggest thing is that I am almost always aware of Harry's emotions, and he mine." She looked up at her husband. "It's amazing." There was a touch of awe in her voice.
"I take it that you are trying to keep this a secret?"
"Yes, Dad. Hermione guessed, and we told Bill last week. We wanted his advice on how to tell you. And Remus knows, as he has been helping to train Harry all term. But other than that, we'd really prefer to keep it to ourselves for awhile. Harry doesn't want any more attention, and we think it best not to alert Voldemort to our marriage, at least for as long as possible."
"That's probably a good idea." He sighed and was lost in thought for several minutes.
"Mr. Weasley?" Harry asked tentatively.
"I want you to know that I love your daughter very much. And despite the fact that this was sort of an accident, I wouldn't give her up for the world. She is the best thing that ever happened to me."
Molly Weasley, who had spent the last several minutes ranting silently, softened at this. She watched as Harry and Ginny looked at each other, so obviously in love. With a sigh, she turned to her eldest son and motioned towards her throat. Bill smiled as he released the spell.
"I'm sorry I lost my temper, Ginny dear. That was just a bit of a shock."
"That's alright, Mum. It was a shock to me as well."
"Are you happy? Truly?"
"I couldn't be more. Harry treats me perfectly, and he would do anything for me."
"Are you… have you two been…" Her question was halting, and her cheeks were nearly as red as her son-in-law's.
"No, Mum. Harry and I are going to wait a bit for that."
Molly sighed in relief. Then she turned to Harry. "And you'll protect my baby girl, Harry?"
"With everything I have, Mrs. Weasley."
"Well then, dear, I reckon it's about time you started calling us Mum and Dad. Welcome to the family."
Harry drew in a ragged breath of relief, and then he was being pulled into her embrace.
"Thank you, Mum," he murmured into her ear.
Ginny beamed in relief and threw herself at her father. "Thanks for understanding, Dad."
"Sometimes we wish things were different, Ginny girl, but we simply have to make the best of what we have." When Molly finally released Harry, Arthur extended a hand towards him. "I'm glad to finally make you a Weasley, son."
"Thank you, sir. There is no family I'd rather be part of."
Molly beamed at him as they returned to their seats. "When were you wanting to tell the rest of the family, Ginny? We can't keep this from forever."
"We know, Mum." Ginny looked up at her husband.
"Ginny and I thought it best that we go through the motions of a more traditional marriage. Unless something happens, that would mean becoming publicly engaged next summer and married the following."
"That sounds reasonable." Arthur agreed. "What about Dumbledore?"
Harry stiffened visibly, and Ginny placed a hand on his knee to calm him down before answering. "We don't feel the need to ever inform him."
"But, Ginny!" Molly exclaimed. "He's the Headmaster and the leader of the Order. He needs this information."
"No, Mum. He long since lost any respect I have for him. Harry didn't mention this, but not only did he lie about the prophecy, but he has been purposely trying to separate us all term. Even more, he actively tried to keep us apart before that."
Bill looked surprised at this information. "What do you mean he tried to keep you apart? And why would he do that?"
Harry's eyes shot to Ginny's, and he squeezed her hand. Do we tell them?
Yes, Harry. They need to know if he ever tries to get their help in keeping us apart.
Harry nodded and returned his attention to the elder Weasleys. "We discovered that since the beginning of my third year Dumbledore has regularly been feeding me a love potion that redirected all the feelings I had for Ginny towards another student."
Harry's hands shot up to cover his ears at the explosion of sound that came out of Molly Weasley at that pronouncement. He didn't think she was even using words, merely screaming in fury. Harry really couldn't blame her, but it was becoming difficult to hear and he had more questions to answer, so once more the Weasley matriarch was silenced.
"Sorry, Mum," he said quietly, "but I wanted to be able to answer all your questions, and I won't be able to do that if you leave to curse Dumbledore." Arthur chuckled. "In answer to your question, Bill, the second half of the prophecy, the part Dumbledore didn't tell me about, mentions another individual who would help me fulfill my destiny. Based on his actions for the last fifteen years, it is fairly obvious that Dumbledore planned to take this role upon himself, but it was never meant for him. Thankfully, we recognized his attempt for what it was and took steps to counteract it, allowing Ginny to take her rightful place."
This time the excitement did not come from the still silent matriarch. It was Arthur Weasley whose wand shot angry sparks across the room. "You mean to tell me," he said in a calm but deadly voice, "that the Headmaster used illegal means to try to manipulate things for his benefit all because of a prophecy?"
Harry nodded. After another tap on his hand, Bill once more removed the silencing charm from his mother.
"And just why can't I go curse Albus Dumbledore?" Molly asked in a clipped voice.
"Believe me, I think it a worthy cause, but while he knows that I am aware of some of his manipulations, we would like to keep him ignorant of everything. It seemed best to let him continue under the misguided assumption that he still has some control over me. I prefer not to have to fight him until I absolutely have to, as doing so would probably bring to light things best left hidden. We've managed to insure that news of our marriage doesn't get out, but if Dumbledore ever finds out about that or my new wand, the results could be disastrous for the war effort."
Arthur sighed and slumped back in his seat, most of the fight gone from his face. "While that makes sense, I refuse to allow him to simply walk all over us."
"We know," Ginny cut in. "We've tried to remain firm about our intentions without letting him know any of the reasons behind them. He knows that Harry intends to not be separated from me, but he doesn't know why. He knows that Harry refuses to train with him, but he doesn't know to what extent we really have been training."
"I've tried to refuse his demands without ever really giving him reasons why. But the other night I had to go further. I let him know that we knew about the love potion and implied my knowledge of the full prophecy. He is also aware that I have a new guardian, though he doesn't know that I am legally considered of age and hence am my own guardian. We think that he will probably approach you next. He will use some twisted logic to try to make you believe that Ginny is in danger because of her relationship with me and that you should force her to leave me. Obviously, we would appreciate it if you don't agree with him."
A feral smile crept across Molly's face. Harry was eerily reminded of the twins. "Let him try. I will not let him harm my family again."
Harry smiled gratefully. "Thank you, Mum. You have no idea how much that means to me." His gaze moved towards the stairs. "We should probably wrap up our discussion. It won't be long before Ron tries to come downstairs."
"That's fine, Harry," Molly agreed. "If we have further questions we'll let you know." She turned to her daughter. "Why don't we start on lunch while Harry entertains your brother? There are things we should talk about."
What's wrong, Gin?
Mum is going to have the Talk with me. Again. And probably go on and on about the duty of a wife.
Harry's color nearly rivaled his wife's. Oh.
Despite having spent last Christmas with the Weasleys and Sirius, this was the first Christmas that he was able to truly enjoy the holiday. He had spent most of his time last year worrying about Mr. Weasley, or brooding about being possessed. So it was with a measure of awe that Harry watched the various traditions unfold over the next several days. He followed along happily as the Weasley men went tromping through the woods to cut down their tree. He sat next to a giggling Ginny and helped her make chain after chain of decorations to decorate said tree. He snickered as Fred and George caught a garden gnome and charmed it to go on top of the tree; evidently this was a bit of a tradition of theirs. He shyly offered his help in the kitchen as Molly Weasley prepared a feast of epic proportions. For the first time in his life, Harry truly felt like he was part of a family. The Weasleys had always treated him well, and most of the children had adopted him years ago, but there was just something different now and he wouldn't have given it up for the world.
Remus had convinced him to take a break from his training over the holiday, and so Harry spent most of the break being a kid instead of a fighter. And he loved it. Ironically enough, he even mostly refrained from sneaking off the property, despite the fact that he had fought for that very right.
He had gone to bed late Christmas Eve night after spending the night listening to Christmas music and drinking cider around the tree. Ginny woke him early the next morning by crawling into his bed and planting quick kisses all over his face. He blinked his eyes open to see her giggling form above him.
"And just what do you think you are doing?"
"Waking you up."
"Well, I'm not ready to get up yet. So I think I'll just have to hold you here."
His arms shot out and pulled her down on top of him, where she snuggled into his side. "I've got no objections to that," she whispered.
"Shh… sleep now."
It was nearly an hour later that Ron woke up and threw a pillow at them. "Oi! Wake up you two. And what are you doing in his bed, Ginny?"
Ginny raised her head groggily. "I tried to wake him up and he refused."
"So why are you still here?"
"I'm holding her captive, Ron." Harry answered. "Do you have a problem with that?"
Ron sputtered at them for several moments before apparently coming to the conclusion that there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. "Whatever, let's go down and open presents."
Ginny bounced out of the bed and dragged Harry with her. He mumbled the whole way, but his face was lit up with a smile. They made their way quickly into the sitting room where the rest of the family was gathered, and Ginny pushed him down onto the couch and then settled herself comfortably across his lap. Fred and George, who had spent the night instead of returning to their flat above their shop, raised identical eyebrows at this.
"Are you quite comfortable…"
"…little sis? Or would you prefer…"
"…if we would leave you alone…"
"…with your dear Mr. Potter?"
She smiled brightly. "That would be marvelous! Would you mind?"
The twins broke into identical laughter before turning to their piles of presents. Harry wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her back snugly into his chest. "Are you trying to get your brothers to kill me, Gin?"
"Oh, tosh! They aren't going to hurt you. Now, what did you get me?"
Harry laughed. "Not a chance, sweet girl."
Ginny pouted prettily before pulling a package towards her and tearing off the paper. Harry watched happily as the family unwrapped their gifts and exclaimed over the contents. He didn't have nearly as many presents to open, so he was able to spend most of his time basking in Ginny's joy. As her pile of unopened presents dwindled without producing one from Harry he could feel her confusion, but he just smirked and remained silent. When she finally opened the last gift she turned to him and poked an angry finger into his chest.
"And where is my present, Mr. Potter?"
He smirked at her. "What makes you think I bought you anything?"
"You had better, if you know what is good for you."
He laughed happily. "Which one do you want first?"
"You got me more than one?"
"I got you three. One that is practical, one that will come in handy one day but will take a bit of work, and one just because."
Ginny looked thoughtful for a few minutes. "Practical first. We'll save the fun one for last."
Harry nodded before waving his wand; a brightly wrapped package fell into her lap. Ginny tore off the paper to reveal a long thin box, then gasped when she saw what was inside. On a bed of red silk lay a magnificent wand. She reached out a shaking hand and picked it up gently, and the moment her hand made contact it shot out red and green sparks that lit up the room causing Molly to gasp in pleasure. Ginny's eyes shot up to Harry's.
"You made me promise to no longer leave you behind. This will ensure that I won't have to."
Only the three eldest occupants of the room knew what they were talking about. Molly and Arthur exchanged worried glances. They wished they could keep her out of the fight, but knew that was a hopeless goal.
"How did you get it?"
"I paid a little visit to Ollivander the other day. Remind me to tell you about it later. Suffice it to say that my wand chose yours so I was fairly confident it would work for you."
Ginny beamed at him. "What's it made of?"
"Rowan wood and griffin heart string, same as mine."
Ginny raised an eyebrow at this. They hadn't known the composition of Godric's wand. But she figured he would tell her later. "Thank you, Harry."
"Do you want the next one now?" His excitement was boiling over, and Ginny merely nodded.
With another wave of his wand a small square package appeared before her. She opened it quickly and then grew confused. It held a rather ornate bronze key. She looked up at him. "What is this to?"
"Our home or at least, what will become our home." Her mouth formed a silent oh. "I'm not going back to the Dursleys' this summer, and I wanted a place of my own. A place where no one could find me." Harry reached down and entwined their hands before continuing silently.
It needs a bit of work, but I think it will be the perfect place to raise a family. Our family.
This is my commitment to you that I will make it through this war, because we have a home to build together.
Ginny threw her hands around Harry neck and buried her head against his chest, silent tears falling down her face. Harry held her close.
"Why are you upset, Ginny?" Ron asked curiously. Most of the family had been watching as Harry gave Ginny her gifts, but most of them were confused about them, especially the key. "And why did Harry give you a key to his house?"
Harry looked up at his best mate. "I didn't give her a key, I gave her the house." Ron's eyes widened in astonishment. "And she's just happy."
Ron nodded dumbly, still confused, as Harry turned back to Ginny. "Would you like your last gift, Gin?"
She shook her head. "Give me a minute. Why don't you open yours?"
Harry nodded and pulled the medium sized package that Ginny had given him towards him. He unwrapped it to find two books. He looked down in confusion, as he already had both of these books. One was the seventh year Charms textbook and the other was the Transfiguration one. Confused, he asked hesitantly, "Ginny? You know I already have these…"
"Open them up, love."
With a shrug, Harry did just that. And then he let out his breath in a strangled gasp. Both books were used, and both contained copious notes by their previous owner. Harry stared hard at the two names written on the flyleaf. Lily Evans. James Potter. "Gin? How?"
Ginny raised her head to look at him. "Professor McGonagall helped me. I guess many students donate their old books to the school when they graduate. She was fairly sure that your parents had done so, but it took me ages to find them. I had to go through hundreds of books, and I wasn't even sure they would still be there, but…"
Harry buried his head in her hair to hide his tears. Thank you. You don't know how much this means to me.
She combed her fingers through his hair in an effort to calm him. You're welcome, love. Wait until you read some of the things they wrote. They were both brilliant. And your mum… she paused hesitantly before going on. Your mum seemed to use pages of her book as journal sometimes. She wrote about falling in love with your dad.
Harry gasped and lifted his head. He looked at the books reverently, then set them carefully aside. He took Ginny's face in his hands and crashed his mouth on to hers. His kiss was forceful and desperate, and in his foggy brain he recognized the distinct possibility that he would never stop.
"Oi! Do you guys have to do that?"
Harry recognized that it was Ron, but the small portion of his brain not occupied in the redhead on his lap decided that it was not a pressing concern.
That is until a stream of ice cold water hit him and he jumped in shock. He looked up to see a smirking Charlie with a wand pointed directly at him.
"You need to cool off there, Harry. I don't need to see you mauling my sister."
Harry growled in frustration but conceded the point. There would be plenty of time later. With a smirk Harry thought of the things they could get up to tomorrow when he took Ginny to see their new house.
He waved his wand to dry himself off, then twirled it producing a third package, this one even smaller than the previous. He handed it to a beaming Ginny and watched as she tore into it greedily. Her eyes shot up curiously when she found a velvet ring box, but Harry just smiled at her. She opened it hesitantly and gasped with pleasure.
"They call it an eternity ring because it goes on forever. We're too young for me to put a real ring on your finger quite yet," Ginny stifled her laughter at this, "but I wanted you to have something to show the world how much I love you. Consider this my promise."
Ginny sighed happily as she slipped the ring on her right hand. It was a perfect circle of small emeralds embedded in a gold band. She smiled down at it, happy to be able to wear a ring in public from Harry.
"Thank you, Harry. It's lovely."
"Then it fits you perfectly."
Boxing Day began bright and early for Harry and Ginny. They had spent the previous day basking in the happiness of the season, and spending time with Ginny's family. Harry had also been avoiding the questioning gazes sent his way by Ron and Charlie, and even occasionally the twins. He knew there were would be questions based on his gifts, but he couldn't help it. He would not allow other people's opinions to dictate the gifts he gave his wife. Thankfully, Bill had taken his four brothers aside and had a quiet chat with them, and the result was a thawing in the tension that had pervaded much of the morning.
But today Harry was taking Ginny to view their new house.
They ate a quick breakfast and pulled on their cloaks before bidding Molly goodbye. It had taken Harry a good bit of fast talking to convince the woman to let them leave on their own, but she was unable to deny the fact that Harry was perfectly capable of protecting her daughter on his own. He also subtly hinted at the fact that she had no say in what they did any more. With a large crack Dobby deposited them on the front drive of a rather large and slightly worn down house.
Ginny looked up with wide eyes, and Harry let her wander around the outside for several minutes before gently taking her hand and giving her a tour of the house itself. She didn't speak a word, only letting out little sounds of pleasure occasionally as they explored. The house was large, but had clearly not been used for several years. It was a great, sprawling house with several turrets and large bay windows and was built out of slate grey stones. It had several bedrooms as well as a sitting room, library, dining room, and a large training room. There was a large kitchen as well as attached servants' quarters that Harry thought would be perfect for Dobby and any other house elves he might acquire. He had a sneaking suspicion that Winky would soon be joining the family. Harry ended the tour in what would be their bedroom. It had a small sitting room with a fireplace and a loveseat surrounding a large bearskin rug. The bedroom itself was done up in an old fashioned style that Harry wasn't fond of, but it was spacious and had a balcony overlooking the grounds. Harry could just see them enjoying a quiet evening out on that balcony together. There was also a large bathroom with Victorian features and a large claw-footed bathtub big enough for two, which Harry tried very hard not to think about. As Ginny looked around Harry followed happily, ecstatic with being able to give this to her. Finally, she turned around and looked at him.
"It's wonderful, Harry."
He beamed at her. "Do you really like it?" She nodded happily. "I know that it needs a lot of work. But Dobby thinks that it can be ready for me to live here by the summer." He looked down nervously at his hands. "I know that you probably won't be able to stay the whole summer with me, but I thought maybe your parents wouldn't mind your staying for a bit."
Ginny smiled at him. "I'd like that, Harry." He returned her smile shyly. "Now, why don't you tell me about your visit to Ollivander? Did he tell you anything about your wand?"
"Yes, he was quite interested in it." He took her hand and led her over to the loveseat where he pulled her down to sit in her lap. "He was a little confused by it, as he recognized its age but was unable to determine its origin; I told him it was a family heirloom. I don't know how much of it he bought. Especially as the first thing it did when I entered the shop was summon your new wand. It seemed quite happy to find it as well, shooting sparks out and making me feel rather giddy. I tried to tell Ollivander that it was me who summoned the wand." Harry shrugged. "He didn't ask any more questions, but he did tell me the wand was made of rowan wood and griffin heart string. The rowan is for protection, and the griffin itself is a protector against all evil, aside from the obvious connection to Gryffindor. He said the ruby in the top brings confidence, and the emeralds help center the user. He said that it was a powerful combination that he had never seen before. He also cautioned me about wands embedded with gemstones. He said that few wizards can handle the power of them."
Ginny's hand curled into his shirt as she nestled into his embrace. "I wouldn't worry about that, love. The wand works for you for a reason. You have a job to do with it, and the extra power will only help."
"I know. But sometimes I still worry. We've spent the last several months fighting against Dumbledore's intentions for me. We know he was blinded by his power until he was no longer able to correctly judge matters." Harry dropped his head down to rest on top of hers. "What is to keep the same thing from happening to me? I have access to all this power. What if I fall, too?"
Ginny sighed and ran one of her small hands up under the hem of his shirt until she found the skin of his abdomen. I won't let that happen to you. I love you, Harry James Potter, and I believe in you. You are too good to fall into that trap. You don't want this power, and as soon as possible you are going to set it all aside to live the quiet life you want so much. Don't let Dumbledore's mistakes make you second guess yourself.
How can you be so sure?
Because I know you better than you know yourself. And besides, her tone changed to one of mischief. You have me, and I won't let you fall.
He grinned against her hair. You're right, I have you. Everything else is unimportant in comparison.
Ginny felt a hint of mischief from him before his large hands wrapped around her waist and spun her around. She squeaked in surprise to find herself suddenly straddling his lap. He grinned down at her.
"Now that I have you, I think it is time I enjoyed you."
She raised one of her delicate eyebrows in question, but he didn't respond. Instead, he pulled her small body closer and attacked her mouth with his. Ginny responded enthusiastically and wound her hands into his messy hair to hold him close. Emboldened, Harry tore his mouth away from hers and planted hot kisses down her long neck. His hands clenched on her hips, both to hold her in place and prevent themselves from wandering.
Though, truthfully, he was having a hard time deciding exactly why he needed to stop.
A/N: This story will not have anyone trying to become an Animagus. It is really time consuming, and very few people can do it. Harry feels there are much better uses for his time at the moment. Thought I'm sure it will be something he does eventually, if only in memory of his dad and Sirius.
I had a comment about Hermione figuring things out first. That is the character as she was written. You will notice that it took her awhile, and that she doesn't figure everything out. But she is smart and observant, and found a good book. I am trying to mostly stick with the characterizations created by JKR.
There will be no pregnancy in this story (except for possibly in an epilogue). This story is about the war. And making Ginny pregnant during it would put way too much stress on Harry.
As for Draco, his part is mostly comic relief. He is not a real threat to Harry and is really all talk. I put his part in because I thought it was hilarious.
Albus Dumbledore walked happily down the small country lane, enjoying the crisp January air. Evidently the Weasleys had updated their wards recently, as he had been unable to apparate any closer to their home. But considering how much time Harry spent at the Burrow, this could only be considered a good thing.
Of course, he sincerely hoped that one of the results of his visit tonight would be a drastic decrease in the amount of time that Harry spent at the Burrow in the future.
He strolled up and knocked cheerfully on the door. It only took moments before Molly Weasley was opening it.
"Albus! What a surprise!"
He looked at her carefully. Was it just his imagination, or did she not seem very happy to have him here? No, he must just be seeing things. "Good day, Molly. I wonder if I might trouble you and Arthur for a few minutes of your time?"
"Certainly, Albus." She stepped back from the door. "Do come in."
Albus followed her into the sitting room and took a seat as she bustled outside to call her husband away from his beloved shed. He waited patiently until the couple came in and sat on the couch opposite his chair.
"What can we do for you, Albus?" Arthur Weasley asked. Again, the greeting seemed a trifle forced.
"I wish to speak with you about a concern I have about your daughter Ginevra."
Molly Weasley gripped her husband's hand tightly. "Is something wrong with Ginny?"
"Not exactly, but I fear it is only a matter of time." He paused and noted that the couple in front of him seemed oddly guarded, and not nearly as upset as he expected them to be based on his statement. Molly Weasley was the type to fly of the handle at any hint of harm to one of her children, and yet here she sat relatively calmly. "As you are no doubt aware, Ginevra has become romantically involved with young Mr. Potter."
"I fail to see how Ginny and Harry's relationship should concern you." Albus blinked at the faint note of hostility in Arthur's tone. He grew cautious. He hadn't even presented his concerns and already they were defensive. This was not looking good.
"While I do think that Ginny and Harry are admirably suited to each other, it is dangerous for Harry to be involved romantically with anyone at this time." Molly and Arthur did not even blink. "Harry has a destiny which he must fulfill, and he cannot afford any distractions from that destiny at this time."
"I hardly see how providing the boy with something to fight for could be a bad thing, Albus." Arthur spoke calmly, but Albus could see that Molly was quickly losing her cool. He hurried on before the Weasley matriarch lost her temper.
"Harry needs to spend all his time training and preparing, not looking for broom cupboards."
"Harry has spoken to us about his training. He seems to be spending a good portion of his time preparing as it is." Arthur's voice was quiet. "If he were to spend any more time training than he already is, he would have no life worth speaking of." The man paused and eyed the Headmaster carefully. "Why are you putting so much pressure on a mere boy, Albus?"
Albus sighed heavily before continuing. He had hoped it wouldn't come to this. "I have no choice. There is a prophecy regarding Harry, stating that he is our only hope for finally defeating Voldemort." Albus was doubly shocked. Not only did his words fail to sway the couple, but neither of them flinched at the name. What was going on here? He decided to try another tactic. "In addition, it is extremely dangerous for anyone to be so closely tied to Harry. If Voldemort were to learn of Harry's feelings for your daughter, he would stop at nothing to lay his hands on her."
Eyes nearly wild with fury, Molly Weasley slowly rose to her feet. "Professor," she began, "I have always greatly respected you for what you have accomplished, but I will not stand for this. You have manipulated Harry his entire life. And now that he finally found some measure of happiness, you try to take it away. I will not allow you to interfere in their relationship. Harry is perfectly capable of taking care of Ginny. He has proven that to us on numerous occasions. The only reason you are even here now is because your attempts at separating them have failed. I will not stand back and let you destroy the happiness of my family."
Albus looked on in shock. "Molly," he placated, "I only want what is best for your family."
"That is a grand sentiment, only you no longer have the right to decide that. We will keep our own council about such things." She took a deep breath. "I think it is about time for you to leave, Headmaster."
Albus rose sadly. "I had hoped you would see reason. I only wish you don't come to regret your decision."
"We won't," Arthur spoke quietly as he rose to stand next to his wife. "And take care that you don't overstep your bounds in your zeal to accomplish your goals, Albus."
The warning was clear. He nodded his head before turning to leave. That did not go as planned. As Albus walked back down the lane, he tried to think what could have gone wrong. But the more he went over the conversation he just had the more he realized that the Weasleys were set against him before he even entered the house. Which could only mean one thing: Harry must have already spoken to them. With a resigned sigh he wondered how he needed to proceed. Harry seemed immovable in his intentions; there were really only two options left to him. He could try to speak with Ginny herself, or he could try to use his authority as Headmaster to prevent their being together. The latter would be extremely difficult given Harry's mysterious new guardian, but it might be his only option.
Wondering just how things had come to this, Albus disapparated back to Hogsmeade.
"Miss Weasley, the Headmaster wishes to see you in his office."
Ginny looked up in shock at Professor McGonagall. "When?"
"As soon as possible."
Ginny nodded numbly and turned back to finish her breakfast. Only she was no longer hungry. She hadn't expected Dumbledore to try and convince her directly; she expected him to try and convince her parents. She didn't notice when Harry's hand found hers.
It will be all right, Gin.
Ginny looked up at him. I know. She took a deep breath. How much do I tell him if he pushes the issue?
Try not to have to use our marriage. But seeing as how he already knows about my new guardian it wouldn't be too horrible if he learned you had a new one as well.
What if he tries something more drastic?
What do you mean?
Well, when he was arguing with you, you had a certain amount of leeway. It's not like he could expel you. But I doubt he would have a problem doing so to me.
Harry's jaw tightened and his eyes hardened. He had better not try. Closing his eyes to calm himself down, he thought for several seconds. Okay, here's what we do. If he tries to expel you, you are within your rights to demand that he present his case to your legal guardian. Harry withdrew his hand and discretely pulled out his wand. He tapped it several times against the Legion necklace around her neck and once against his own necklace before stowing his wand and returning his hand to hers. In that event, hold the pendant and say 'tribunus'. It will cause mine to go cold. I'll come for you then.
Ginny nodded. Why that name?
It's the title given to the commander of a Roman Legion. I thought it was appropriate to call me.
Ginny giggled at him. She reached up and planted a quick kiss on his lips before standing up. "I had better go see what he wants. I'll see you soon, love."
"It will be okay, Gin."
She gave his hand a quick squeeze before turning and leaving the hall. She used her walk to the Headmaster's office to check her Occlumency shields and cast the charm Harry had taught her that would nullify any attempt to cast a tracking charm on her. She made sure her new wand was concealed up her sleeve and with a final breath knocked on the door.
"Come in, Miss Weasley."
She opened the door and walked in to find the Headmaster seated not behind his desk but in a chair next to a small table that held a tea service. "Good morning, Headmaster. Professor McGonagall said you wished to speak with me?"
"Yes. Do have a seat." He waited for her as she sat rigidly in the chair across from him. "Would you care for some tea?"
She nodded her acceptance and took the proffered cup. Dumbledore didn't say a word as they took several sips. It took a great deal of restraint not to make a face at the tea. It was distinctly off, and Ginny recognized the love potion it contained. But she gave no indication that she noticed this.
Dumbledore waited for her to finish her tea before beginning. "I wished to speak to you, Miss Weasley, about Harry."
"Is something wrong with Harry?"
Dumbledore sighed. "I fear so. How much has Harry told you about his destiny?"
Ginny lifted one delicate eyebrow. "I know what he faces."
Dumbledore nodded as if he had been expecting that. "I fear that Harry is in grave danger. Due to some small misunderstandings, he has not allowed me to help him as he prepares for his destiny. I worry that, because of his unwillingness to cooperate, he is dooming himself to failure."
"Harry is training himself as hard as he possibly can, Headmaster."
"Are you sure, Miss Weasley? I have observed him carefully, and, while he undoubtedly does spend a great deal of time training, he also wastes precious time on other pursuits."
"Quidditch, the DA, even yourself."
Ginny set her tea cup down and looked the Headmaster in the eye. "I disagree. Harry's Quidditch time is the only time he takes to relax, and that is necessary to keep him from driving himself too hard and too fast. The DA has not met since last year, and he has no intention to continue working with it. He does help a group of us in our Defense work, but this is a sacrifice he feels is well worth it if he can teach his fellow students to protect themselves from Voldemort and his followers." Ginny paused briefly. "As for his time with me, I suppose I may not be the most objective in this regard, but Harry's determination to win and train has only increased since we began seeing each other. I do not see how that is a bad thing."
"But do you not see how Harry's wasting time on romantic pursuits could be dooming him to his death?"
Ginny's eyes flashed. "No. You, yourself, told him that his greatest strength was love. If love is what will help him win in the end, you should have no objection to him cultivating love in his own life as much as possible."
Dumbledore's jaw clenched briefly before he began again. "But that is simply another objection, Miss Weasley. Harry is placing all of his love and hope on you. At fifteen, are you really prepared to be his only support? Youthful romances are notorious for not lasting. Can you imagine the devastating results should you find yourself no longer caring for Harry?"
Ginny clenched her fists in anger. "I am perfectly capable in supporting him as he needs. And despite what you may think, Headmaster, I love Harry and will stand at his side for the rest of my life." She angrily pushed the tea away from her. "Just because you were unable to sway Harry away from me with a love potion, what gave you the right to try the same on me? Did it not occur to you that Harry would insist on the same protection for me that made him immune to your efforts?"
Dumbledore was momentarily startled, but he quickly regained his composure. "Very well, Miss Weasley, if that is the way you feel, then I am truly sorry for the way I must act." He pulled a roll of parchment off the table in front of him and handed it to her. "Due to your inability to comply with requests made for the benefit of your fellow students, it is my sad duty to inform you that you are hereby expelled from Hogwarts." Ginny stiffened. "You are asked to vacate the premises immediately. Your belongings will be sent to you."
"With all due respect, Headmaster, I demand an explanation be delivered to my guardian."
"Very well, I shall accompany you to the Burrow to speak to your mother."
"That won't be necessary." She placed her hand over the pendant on her neck and whispered, "Tribunus." Looking back up at the confused Headmaster, she continued. "My guardian will be here momentarily."
Dumbledore stared at her carefully then looked up in shock at the sharp knock on the door. "Come in," he called, his eyes widening as he looked up at the door.
"Good morning, Headmaster."
"Harry," he greeted. "If you would excuse me for a moment, Miss Weasley and I were in the middle of a discussion."
"Forgive me for interrupting, sir, but I understand that my presence was requested."
"And why would that be, Harry?"
"I have come in my official capacity as Ginny's legal guardian."
In the coming years, Ginny would continually bemoan that she hadn't had a camera ready at that moment, for the look on Albus Dumbledore's face was truly hilarious.
"Her guardian?" He sputtered after several moments.
"Yes. You will find that I am now the legal guardian of record for both myself and Ginny."
"But… how? You are not even of age?"
"The reasons why are not relevant to our current discussion." Harry calmly walked over and took a seat in the chair next to Ginny. He reached for her hand before continuing. "As her guardian, how can I help you today?"
Dumbledore did not answer, so Ginny spoke up. "The Headmaster has just informed me that I am to be expelled for not agreeing to break up with you."
Dumbledore looked ill. "Now, Ginny, that is not the reason."
"Forgive me, Headmaster. You told me I was to be expelled for not complying with your requests made for the benefit of my fellow students. The only request you made was for me to distance myself from Harry. It is the only logical conclusion."
Harry turned steely eyes on the Headmaster. "Sir, if you insist on expelling Ginny on such spurious charges, then I must inform you that I will be leaving with her."
Dumbledore finally seemed to regain his composure. "This has gone on long enough, Harry. There is no conceivable way that you could be legally in control of yourself and Miss Weasley. If you insist on this route, then I insist on proof."
Harry nodded his acknowledgement. "Very well. If you would accompany us, Headmaster?" Harry, still holding Ginny's hand, walked determinedly to the fireplace and threw in a handful of floo powder. He called, "Ministry of Magic, Department of Magical Contracts!" He pulled Ginny in with him and disappeared in green flames. He stepped into a familiar office and waited until Dumbledore stepped out of the fireplace before walking towards the secretary. "Good morning. Is it possible to speak with Director Jarvis? I'm afraid it is rather urgent."
The startled secretary nodded mutely at seeing not only Harry Potter but Albus Dumbledore in front of her. "I'll just let him know you're here." She scurried through a door behind her, only to return a moment later. "If you'll come through here, he'll see you now."
Harry nodded his thanks and led Ginny through the door. She was looking around curiously, having not been with him the previous time he visited this office. The young couple and elderly man entered the plush office to find a wizened old man sitting behind a large desk.
"Mr. Potter!" He exclaimed happily. "It is such a pleasure to see you again, do please come in."
"Thank you, Director. With me are Ginevra Weasley and Professor Dumbledore." The man beamed at him and gestured for them all to sit down. "The last time we spoke I indicated that there might come a time where I would need you to verify something for me. I'm afraid I must impose on your time for that today."
"Certainly! Shall I tell the Headmaster everything?" Harry didn't miss the gleam in Dumbledore's eyes at this.
"That is not necessary. He merely requires confirmation that I am legal guardian of myself and Ginny."
The Director looked at Harry carefully for several silent seconds, then winked at him after coming to some sort of understanding. "I understand, lad." He turned to a thoroughly startled and befuddled Dumbledore. "It is as Mr. Potter says, Professor. As of this past June he has been granted majority rights and full legal control of himself as well as Ms. Weasley."
"Forgive my skepticism, Director Jarvis, but I fail to see a means whereby this may have been accomplished. At the time you speak of, Harry was only fifteen. As his legal magical guardian at that time I would have been aware of any change in his status."
Jarvis laughed merrily. "So it usually is, Headmaster. Unfortunately, I am contractually bound not to reveal more than Mr. Potter allows me to, and he has not given me permission to give you the details. Suffice it to say, Mr. Potter and Ms. Weasley have fallen under the scope of an obscure law. It is rather old, but still in full effect."
"And you cannot tell me which law this is?"
"Ministry Decree 7."
Dumbledore's jaw dropped once more. That was one of the founding documents of the Ministry of Magic. Unfortunately, that particular decree contained so much it would be impossible for him to determine the truth behind the matter. Despite having no idea how this had happened, he was forced to acknowledge that his hands were completely tied. "Very well. I thank you for taking the time to meet with us."
Dumbledore turned to the couple beside him. "Given this new information, the punishment we had discussed no longer applies, Miss Weasley."
Ginny smiled. "Thank you, Headmaster."
Dumbledore wearily walked out of the office and through the floo, followed closely by the young couple. After Harry and Ginny left, he slumped in his chair. He was forced to acknowledge the fact that Harry and Ginny were now completely beyond his control. He only hoped this did not spell the doom of the wizarding world. For many years now he had planned and prepared to guide Harry as prophecy dictated. Either he was wrong in assuming that role, or Harry was about to fall below even Tom Riddle.
For the first time in his long life, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore sincerely hoped he had been wrong. The alternative was unbearable.
January was a fairly quiet month, for which Harry was grateful. The Headmaster seemed to have finally accepted that he no longer had any control over Harry. Indeed, he seemed to be trying to make up for some of his past mistakes and had given Remus several suggestions on useful training for Harry, as well as passed along a handful of books that might help. Harry was thankful for this, but even more for the fact that the Headmaster seemed to be coming to terms with this third party role in Harry's training. And the man had provided several useful insights. Despite Harry's anger at him, it was impossible to deny the sheer knowledge and power that Dumbledore had at his command.
Harry was sitting at the dinner table quietly eating with Ginny late in the month when a giggling Hermione came in followed by a highly bemused Ron. Harry looked up at them curiously as they sat down across from him.
"What has you two so amused?" Ginny asked.
Hermione broke into a fresh round of giggles, but Ron answered. "We were in that fifth floor corridor that no one uses; you know, the one with the portrait of Myrithia the Psychotic?" Harry nodded his acknowledgement. It was a favorite destination when he and Ginny wanted to enjoy some time together. "Well, you'll never guess who we saw there engaged in some… private time."
Harry raised an eyebrow in question. "It must be someone unusual for you two to be acting like this. Were Snape and Trelawney going at it?"
Ron chuckled. "No, but you're close. It was Malfoy."
"While the idea of Malfoy snogging some poor female is definitely disturbing, I don't see why it caused this reaction." Ginny was looking at her brother curiously.
"Oh, you're right. If Malfoy had been snogging some poor female." Ron answered.
Harry's jaw dropped open in shock. Finally, he managed to sputter a reply. "Are you telling me… did you see… Malfoy was snogging a bloke?"
Ron nodded through his laughter. "Yep. It was that seventh year Ravenclaw bloke, the one who's always been open about preferring men."
"Carmichael," Hermione managed to control her giggling to answer. "His name is Eddie Carmichael."
Harry thought carefully for a few moments and then remembered who she was talking about. He looked up at the Ravenclaw table towards the boy in question who had just taken his seat. Then he broke out laughing. His amusement spilled over into Ginny, and it was several minutes before the pair of them calmed down enough to resume their conversation. Then Ginny looked up with a twinkle in her eyes.
"And what exactly where the two of you doing in that corridor?"
Harry broke into more laughter at Ron's wide-eyed look and Hermione's red face.
"Um… we were just… talking." Hermione was staring at the table instead of looking up at them.
"Sure you were, Hermione. It's about time, you two."
"What? Are you honestly going to deny that something was happening?"
"No… that's not the point!"
"Look, it is your business what the two of you do. Just know that I am happy for you. It's about bloody time."
Hermione was still sputtering at him. Harry thought it hilarious that she didn't even correct his language.
Ever since that night in December when Ron had pointed out to him how he had been ignoring Ginny, Harry had spent considerable less time trying to integrate the knowledge he had absorbed from Godric's wand, but he still made an effort to spend some time each week doing so. It was the first Sunday in February when Harry learned something of such importance it might be considered the turning point in the war.
Of course, Harry was so disturbed he didn't really see it this way.
He was sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Room of Requirement, with his wand resting in front of him. It had occurred to him the night before that Godric might have some knowledge of what kind of ritual Voldemort might have used in his quest for immortality. After all, he must have done something that prevented his death when the Killing Curse rebounded on him on Halloween in 1981. Harry had been somewhat shocked to realize that this had never been brought up before. He would have thought that Dumbledore would have been concerned by this, as they would obviously need to counteract whatever measures Voldemort had taken before they could kill him. Of course, it was entirely possible that Dumbledore knew more than he had told Harry.
And so Harry dedicated Sunday morning to try to find out all he could. He had begun by thinking about methods to cheat death and block the unforgivable spells for several hours already, and nothing had come to mind. Harry's frustration was starting to grow with the lack of knowledge available to him. He was starting to think that Voldemort had used some obscure magic that no one knew about, or perhaps come up with something himself. If this was the case, there was very little chance that Harry would ever be able to learn of it, in which case he would be entering the fight blind. Harry did not like that feeling.
His disappointment mounting, Harry examined one last avenue. He pondered a way to block the migration of the soul in the event of death.
Harry Potter convulsed in pain and disgust and letting out a piercing cry. He collapsed on the floor and curled into a fetal position and let the agony take him.
Ginny Weasley was sitting in a chair in the Common Room, reading the assigned chapter in her Ancient Runes book while keeping an eye out for Harry. She knew what he was working on this morning, and she was concerned. But she knew he needed to do this and her presence would only distract him. He had been gone for some time, and she could feel his frustration mounting. She was just considering when it would be best to go comfort him when her entire body went rigid. Without a thought she dropped her book and practically flew out of the room. She ran through the corridors in a blind panic, desperate to get to Harry. Something had happened to cause him intense pain and distress, and she swore that she could hear him calling to her in her mind.
The Room must have sensed her distress, or it was responding to Harry's, for as soon as she was in sight of the corridor the door appeared and flew open. She didn't even slow as she raced in. There she found Harry curled on the floor, and she immediately dropped to her knees at his side and pulled him into her arms. At first, Harry didn't even acknowledge her presence, but slowly she was able to penetrate his shock and calm him down enough that he uncurled and pulled her into a tight embrace. He wasn't talking, but Ginny could hear a constant mantra in her head as he held her. Not my Ginny. Not my Ginny.
This only added to her panic.
When Harry showed no sign of calming down, Ginny pushed her hands under his shirt and sought skin to skin contact. This allowed her to project more of her own love through their bond. Remembering something her own mother had done when she would wake up from nightmares as a young girl, Ginny began singing a lilting song to try and calm him down. It took several more minutes, but eventually Harry came back to the present, though he never released his hold on her. Finally, Ginny looked up into his desperate eyes.
"What happened, love?"
Harry shuddered before starting to speak quietly. "You know what I was looking for."
"I didn't find anything about cheating death or blocking the Killing Curse or anything related to that. I tried every variation I could think of, but nothing."
Ginny nodded against his chest. "I could feel your frustration. I was just about to come and check on you when…" Her voice trailed off.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. What did you feel?"
"Pain. I just knew you were in horrible pain. I had to get to you. And I could have sworn I heard you calling me."
He looked down at her curiously, his eyes still dull. "I was calling for you at first. Do you think…"
"…Maybe we might be able to talk without the physical contact?"
"Maybe. Or it might just be because you were in so much pain. But we'll investigate that later. What did you learn?"
Harry shuddered before continuing. "I asked about ways to block the migration of the soul after death. After all, everything points to Voldemort dying when he tried to attack me all those years ago. Maybe he really did die, but something stopped his soul from moving on."
"I take it Godric knew a way."
"Yes, he had learned of one. But… it's horrible, Gin." She looked up at him with love in her eyes, patiently waiting for him to go on. "There is a ceremony that you can perform which will stop your soul from moving on should you die. It only works for up to a year, so it must be repeated every year. I'm not positive Voldemort is using it, but it seems to fit. And that would mean he has done this many times, and it is just so horrible." He cut off and pulled Ginny tightly up to him to crush his mouth onto hers. His kiss was desperate, and Ginny let him take whatever he needed from her. He was panting by the time he pulled back and began his tale again. "The wizard that Godric ran into who had done this had been using Muggleborn witches. It worked fairly well, but Godric was able to find a method around it, which makes me think that Voldemort, who undoubtedly knew about all previous uses, would use Pureblood witches." Harry shuddered. "Only there aren't many, and you…" he trailed off, looking at her wretchedly. "I can't lose you, Gin."
Ginny wound both hands into his hair and pulled him back down for a much softer kiss. You will never lose me, Harry. We will find a way around this, whatever it is.
When she released him, he buried his head in her neck and continued silently. The ritual uses the magic and soul of an unborn magical child to block the migration of your soul. It requires you to take a witch, pregnant with her first child, and… cut her open to tear the child out. You then make a potion from the blood of the fetus. It prevents your soul from moving on by sending the soul of the unborn child in your place. Because Voldemort is so evil, that would condemn the soul of an innocent child in his place, and I can only imagine the place waiting for his soul is miserable. The purer the blood of the fetus, the stronger the magic of the potion is. In addition, it would be stronger if the witch was a virgin upon conception.
Ginny held her husband and pondered this new information. It was disturbing, to say the least, but if it was true it at least gave them a place to look to find a way around it. She could tell that the possibility greatly upset Harry. He hated the loss of innocent life, and, if Voldemort had been using this ritual for years, then who knew how many innocent children he had doomed to hell in his place. Ginny vowed right then to try to find not only a way to get around Voldemort's protection, but hopefully free the children. She could also see why Harry was worrying about her. She would be the perfect candidate for such a ceremony—a pureblood witch whom Voldemort would not care about losing. Ginny realized that this knowledge would cause Harry to become even more protective of her.
Shaking her head, she tried to clear her thoughts. There was plenty of time for that later. They needed to determine if this was the ritual Voldemort had used, and only one person would know the answer to that question.
"Harry, we needed to talk to Dumbledore and Snape."
He sighed heavily before nodding. "I know. Despite my dislike of them both, only Snape can tell me what I need to know and only Dumbledore can make him. But I don't want to tell them of the ritual; with the right questions we should be able to tell if this is what we are up against without revealing anything else." He reluctantly allowed her up from the floor.
"Come on, there's no time like the present."
With a resigned sigh, Harry followed his wife, keeping a firm hold on her hand. He didn't even notice as they walked quietly through the castle, his mind was working furiously to find a way to protect her. Based on his knowledge of Voldemort, he knew that the wretch was most likely to use a virgin pureblood. One form of protection was simply to make sure Ginny no longer fit the qualification.
Only Harry could not bring himself to taint that experience. He and Ginny would be together when they were ready, not because of Voldemort. He cursed silently in his head. And he had been planning… but it didn't matter now. He wouldn't touch her until he knew she was safe. He would not act out of desperation instead of love.
With a jolt he realized they were already standing in front of the Headmaster's office door.
"Come in, Harry," the old man's voice called. Harry and Ginny entered, and found Dumbledore seated and working on some paperwork. "What can I help you with this morning?"
Dumbledore was shocked to see them there. He had not expected Harry to voluntarily talk to him again. But then he took a good look at the boy, and was startled to see the bleak look in his eyes.
"I need some information that only Professor Snape can provide. I doubt he would provide it to me willingly, so I am going to need your help."
Dumbledore hid his shock at this request well, but he immediately scrawled a note and handed it to Fawkes, who disappeared in a flash of flames. "He should be here shortly. May I ask what this is about?"
"I've come across some information; it might provide a clue as to what Voldemort has done to prevent his death. I will need confirmation if I am to go about combating it."
"May I ask where you came across this information?"
Harry shrugged, but did not answer. Dumbledore did not push. He had learned the hard way not to push Harry. The young couple and the old man waited silently for several minutes before Severus Snape entered, looking thoroughly annoyed.
"Ah, Severus, please come in."
"May I ask why this is so urgent, Headmaster? I was in the middle of something important." The man glared at Harry and Ginny, but they ignored him.
"I'm afraid that I do not know myself, Severus. However, I ask that you answer Mr. Potter's questions. He may have found significant information regarding Voldemort."
Snape turned and sneered at Harry. "Since when has Potter ever produced anything useful?"
"Severus! You will answer his questions."
Dumbledore's voice was firm, and Snape gave a curt nod.
"I came across a ritual I believe Voldemort is using. It would need to be repeated at least once a year, and would require a witch, probably pureblood, pregnant with her first child."
Snape looked lost in thought for several minutes, and then his already sallow face went white. His eyes shot to the Headmaster before returning to bore into Harry's. "Where did you come across this information, Potter?"
"That is not important. Have you ever seen any evidence that Voldemort might be performing such a ritual?"
Snape looked back at Dumbledore, locking eyes with him for several seconds, and then answered reluctantly. "Yes. Every year he instructs a Death Eater to kidnap a young pureblood witch. It is imperative that she be a virgin when taken. I was always under the impression that he was merely providing a reward for the Death Eater, as he instructed them to use the girl for their own pleasure. However, this past summer I heard him instruct Lucius to remember to insure that the girl conceived."
Dumbledore looked up at this. "Why did you not tell me of this before, Severus?"
"As I said, I thought it was merely a way to reward his followers. I assumed that he wanted to produce children from the encounter to bolster the ranks of pureblood wizards. I thought nothing of it. I never saw him do any more." Snape paused as if considering how much to say. "He knows that I have no interest in forcing myself on anyone, and so I was never given any more information."
Dumbledore turned back towards Harry and was shocked to see the young man shaking in his seat and Ginny trying to comfort him.
"Does this confirm what you thought, Harry?" The young man nodded silently. "Will you share any more with me?" Harry shook his head furiously. With a sigh, Dumbledore nodded. He had not expected Harry to share.
Dumbledore watched as Ginny quietly led Harry out of the office. Something had disturbed the boy greatly and he wanted to know what it was. He turned to his bewildered Potion's Master. "Severus, try and find a ritual involving these components. We must learn what Voldemort has done. Obviously, it is something that has greatly disturbed Harry, and we need to know why."
Snape nodded his acceptance and quietly left the office. He was starting to wonder why it seemed like Harry Potter knew more about the war than Albus Dumbledore.
Severus Snape sat in front of his fire, thinking carefully. He had, of course, known that relations between the Headmaster and Potter had been severely strained this year. When the Headmaster had had him prepare not only the usual love potion, but a much more potent form as well, Snape surmised that Dumbledore did not like Potter begin involved with Weasley. Indeed, he had witnessed more than one attempt to separate the two.
Severus had never bothered to question this before.
Now, he began to wonder. Why would Dumbledore even care whom the boy was involved with? In addition, Severus was aware of how much time Potter spent locked away in the Room of Requirement, presumably to train. He had wondered why Dumbledore was not helping the boy, but now he wondered if maybe Potter would not allow that. Based on their interactions tonight, it was not Dumbledore but Potter who seemed to hold all the cards and be in control of the situation. Severus had never seen a mere child refuse to tell Albus Dumbledore vital information and get away with it, and yet Dumbledore had not even pushed him tonight. He seemed resigned instead.
So what had caused this falling out between the two?
Severus knew that Potter would be the one to destroy the Dark Lord. He had always known, and that knowledge had tormented him. That the talentless son of James Potter would be the saviour of the wizarding world did not sit well with him. He had watched the boy carefully for years, and come to the conclusion that they were doomed. Potter did not have the strength to defeat Voldemort.
But this year something was different about the boy. He had been doing remarkably better in his classes, but it was more than that. He had a hidden power and determination that had not been there before. For the first time, Severus considered the possibility that Potter actually might win.
Severus had not had any hope for sixteen long years. But, now… now, things were different.
The boy obviously needed help, or he would never have willingly asked for information tonight. And he quite clearly refused to allow Dumbledore to provide that help. Perhaps he would accept it from another source.
Harry brooded for the next three days before Ginny got annoyed enough to do something about it. She knew what was bothering him, and she was fairly certain she had a way around it. Thus on Wednesday evening she grabbed Harry's hand and pulled him to an unused classroom. After throwing up several privacy wards, she sat him down.
"All right, Harry. Let's talk about what is bothering you." He didn't answer. "Is it about the ritual?" Again, there was no answer, but there was a sharp spike in his anger and fear. "Okay, are you upset about the children?" He nodded his head slightly. "We will find a way to help them, Harry."
"I don't know. But I refuse to leave them damned in his place. I've been thinking that we should explain some of it to Hermione and set her researching. If anyone can find something it will be her."
Harry finally met her eyes. "I like that idea."
"Good. Now let's talk about what has you really upset."
Harry threw his hands up in exasperation. "How are you not worried about this?" He cried. "You know very well that he would be overjoyed to use you in this ritual."
Ginny gazed back at him calmly. "Yes, I know."
"Then why aren't you upset?"
"Because I know a way around it."
Harry stood up angrily and paced in front of her. "I am not going to sleep with you because of this, Gin. I refuse to let him dictate something so personal."
She jumped down from her seat and intercepted his next pass. Her arms wound around his waist and she rested her head on his chest. "I know, love, and I love you all the more for it." She tilted her head up to meet his eyes. "Although I fully expect you to not wait much longer, Potter."
He grinned sheepishly down at her. "I know, Gin, and I thought the same thing until all of this." He sighed in frustration.
"Well, what if I was to tell you that there was another way to prevent it?"
He looked down at her sharply. "Another way?"
"Yes. And you've already done it."
He stared at her in confusion. "I have no idea what you are talking about."
"Did you or did you not cast a spell that would protect our love?" He nodded hesitantly; he did not see how that applied in this circumstance. "Well, let's play a game of what if. What if I was captured this summer, and they tried to use me for this ritual? Do you honestly think that if I lost my virginity to a Death Eater it wouldn't affect my ability to be with you?" His confusion did not abate, so she continued. "If that happened to me, even if they didn't kill me afterwards, I would probably be extremely hesitant to even touch you, let alone anything else." Harry nodded his acknowledgement. "Well, I went and looked up the spell we cast, and it says it prevents anything from harming the love between us. My being raped by a Death Eater would harm that love, as it would damage both of us emotionally and psychologically. Therefore, you have already protected me from it."
Harry stared down at her for several long minutes, lost in thought. Then a slow smile spread across his face. "You really believe that?"
He let out a shout of joy and picked her up, swinging her around the room happily. Her laughter filled the room. Then he suddenly stopped and, without even setting her down, kissed her fervently. He walked her backwards until she hit the wall, and her legs snaked up to wrap around his waist.
It was an hour later when two highly disheveled students made their way, smiling happily, back to Gryffindor tower.
Harry spent most of the night lost in his plans for the following Friday. He had left off his preparations from Valentine's Day with the knowledge of Voldemort's ritual, but now there was no longer anything standing in his way.
A/N: So I totally changed my mind about Snape in this story. He's not going to be evil, as I'm sure you figured out from this chapter. In fact, I think he'll help Harry and Ginny.
About the last bit with Dumbledore. While in my story he is a manipulative jerk, he is not evil. As my story is mostly written in Harry's perspective, it has seemed that way. I thought it was high time I showed him doing something good.